Fighting Erupts in Northern MaliAugust 19, 2015 in Mali
UN peacekeepers have indicated that they will establish a 20-kilometer “security zone” around the town of Kidal after fighting erupted over the weekend, breaking a ceasefire established in the northern region of the country.
The UN Peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) has indicated that they are declaring a security zone around Kidal “to avoid any possible extension of the fighting that could affect the population of the town.” The zone will take effect as of 0800 GMT Tuesday and will “remain until further notice.” According to the mission, any movement within the zone by pro-government Tuareg forces or their allies “will be deemed to constitute an imminent danger to the security of the population of the town of Kidal,” stressing that the peacekeeping force will “act in accordance with its mandate” in the event of any violation.
The move follows deadly clashes between a pro-government group and Tuareg rebels. According to a regional security source, the fighting erupted Monday at Agnefis, about 120 kilometres (74 miles) south of the strategic town of Kidal, “killing several people.” In a statement, MINUSMA officials disclosed that it was a “blatant violation” of the recently agreed Mali peace deal, known as the Algiers Accord, adding “the international community, as well as the population, is concerned by the increasing number of these violations, which could hinder the progress made towards a stable and lasting peace in Mali.” While a MINUSMA security source has indicated that the clashes left “at least 10 dead and many injured,” Fahad Ag Almahmoud, a top official from the pro-government Imghad Tuareg group disclosed that 15 people were killed, including those of some military leaders from the main Tuareg rebel group Coordination of Movements for Azawad (CMA). On Monday afternoon, Ag Almahmoud stated that “the situation has stabilized. The fighting has temporarily stopped.” Security sources however have indicated that they are concerned about the eruption of clashes, particularly as both sides have used heavy weaponry. One source indicated that during Mali’s rainy season, many of the roads become impassable in the north and groups end up fighting each other for control of roads used for trafficking. MINUSMA has indicated that it will carry out investigations to determine responsibility for the ceasefire violation, adding that any findings will be forwarded to the UN Security Council.