MS Risk Blog

Mali Security Update (27 February 2013)

Posted on in Mali title_rule

A car bomb has exploded in Kidal, killing seven and wounding eleven. The bombing is the second attack in less than a week, as Islamist rebels increase a guerrilla campaign in Northern Mali. Kidal is situated near the Ifogha Mountains, which have become a safe haven for Al Qaeda-linked fighters.

A local government official, speaking anonymously, said the attack occurred on the road leading to Menaka, a town near the Niger border. “Everybody is afraid here in Kidal. The car bomb came from the centre of Kidal. That’s scary; we don’t know how many other car bombs are waiting in there.” A Malian source stated that three other vehicles were destroyed in the attack.

The attack targeted a checkpoint manned by the secular Taureg group, MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad). The MNLA was initially aligned with Mali’s Islamist groups, but issued a statement on 24 January in which they “rejected all forms of extremism and terrorism and was committed to fighting them.” The group called for a peaceful solution to the Mali crisis, and currently backs the French-led offensive to drive the Islamists from the region.

French troops seized control of Kidal’s airport last month. Since then, the MNLA has taken control of the town with the assistance of French and Chadian troops. Though Islamist rebels have been driven out of Kidal, they have regrouped and began to launch guerrilla style hit-and-run attacks against pro-government forces. On 21 February, a car bomb attack killed two MNLA fighters as well as a suicide bomber in Kidal. The next day, a car bomb detonated in the Mali Mali-Algeria border town of In Khalil, killing five.

Both attacks last week were claimed by the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), a splinter group from AQIM.