Rockets Fired in Northern MaliFebruary 17, 2014 in Mali
Military sources in Mali have confirmed that militants launched rockets during a night attack on the desert town of Timbuktu. None of the intended targets were hit. Over the past week, this is the second such to occur in northern Mali, resulting in heightened worry amongst officials as militants have vowed to carry out further attacks. The latest incidents come days after the Red Cross confirmed that a team of five aid workers was kidnapped.
A senior Malian army officer stationed in Timbuktu has confirmed that three rockets were fired on Sunday night by “terrorists,” adding “fortunately there were no casualties.” A source from the United Nations’ MINUSMA peacekeeping force also confirmed that attack, which came three days after a similar assault on the northern town of Gao. On 13 February, militants launched two rockets at a French army base in northern Mali. The attack occurred during a visit by France’s top military officer. The incident was later claimed by the militant group Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), which is a splinter group of al-Qaeda’s regional branch. The militant group also warned that similar such attacks would continue to be carried out against the “enemies of Islam.”
Despite both incidents resulting in no casualties, the recent rise in attacks and incidents in northern Mali has nevertheless resulted in heightened concerns amongst local and international officials that security within the northern region continues to be unstable and may threaten the efforts made by the Malian government and international peacekeeping forces. The attacks also demonstrate MUJAO’s, and similar militant groups, continued capabilities to carry out terrorist attacks.
The latest incidents in northern Mali come days after a group of five Malian Red Cross aid workers went missing on Saturday in an area between Kidal and Gao. Last Tuesday, MUJAO’s leader confirmed that the militant group was responsible for the kidnapping, adding that the five Malians “are alive and in good health.” So far the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has not indicated whether a ransom demand has been made. The current whereabouts of the team are unknown.