Mali: February 2016 Violence Related to AQIM, Ansar al-Din, MUJWA, and Other Security Incidents

By Rida Lyammouri

March 1st, 2016

Violent extremist organizations (VEOs) operating in Mali include al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Murabitun, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), the Macina Liberation Front (MLF), and Ansar al-Din. Below you will find a chronology of the attacks that occurred in February 2016, and here are few notes related to this month’s violence:

  • In February 2016, 21 out of 25 total violent incidents were directly related to VEOs listed.
  • The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) forces, and Malian Army and Malian authorities were the primary targets.
  • While in recent months VEOs relied on improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, the two most damaging in February were suicide attacks using vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED).
  • Under unclear circumstances there is a concerning increased violence near Ménaka, especially at the village Inékar.
  • Since July 2015, 28 violent incidents occurred between Ansongo and Ménaka, rockets were discovered and destroyed before being launched, and three suspected militants were arrested.
  • 01 – 05 February 2016: French forces discovered and destroyed rockets southeast of Tessalit, Kidal Region.
  • Ansar al-Din, group led by Iyad Ag Ghali with close ties to AQIM, announced launching its own media branch on 28 February 2016.
  • The killing of Abu al-Nour is a blow to AQIM’s Saharan Emirate. In a video released by the group early January 2016 Abu al-Nour appeared to be in charge of the military training.
  • In February: French forces conducted missions in north of Timbuktu and Gao region, both areas considered to be strongholds for AQIM and al-Murabitun respectively.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 10.26.57 PM.png

Images of VEO members claiming to be in Azawad [Northern Mali]. Members of VEOs operating in Mali conducted several attacks in the country using motorcycles.

05 February 2016: Suicide bomber and a VBIED targeted MINUSMA police camp in Timbuktu. Four attackers and one Malian soldier killed, and three soldiers injured. AQIM claimed responsibility of the attack.

07 February 2016: Allegedly, a former collaborator with AQIM been assassinated in Boni near Douentza, Mali. AQIM suspected to be behind the assassination after the group believes he became a traitor.

09 February 2016: Malian Military vehicle struck an IED in Mondoro, central Mali, near the borders with Burkina Faso. Three Malian soldiers killed and two injured.

11 February 2016: Gunmen in two 4×4 vehicles carried an attack on Malian customs checkpoint in Hombori. Two civilians and one Malian customs officer killed. Militants also burned a vehicle.

11 February 2016: Allegedly an unknown militant killed when mishandled an IED between Gao and Sévaré.

11 February 2016: Two unknown militants executed an officer of Water and Forests Agency in Sokolo, central Mali.

11 February 2016: Unidentified militants on motorcycles allegedly attacked group of civilians returning from Abalagh market in Niger. Seven civilians reportedly killed in what appeared to be a result of inter-community tensions. The incident took place on the border between Niger and Mali.

12 February 2016: Unknown militants ambushed Malian military convoy on Timbuktu – Goundam transit route. Three Malian soldiers killed and two injured.

12 February: Ansar al-Din carried an attack on MINUSMA camp using VBIED suicide bomb and rockets. Seven peacekeepers killed and 30 injured.

14 February 2016: MINUSMA/Barkhane vehicle struck an IED in Kidal city.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 12.30.56 AM.png

MINUSMA/Barkhane vehicle that struck an IED on 14 February 2016 in Kidal, Mali. Source: @assakok_6

13 February 2016: Communities of Tondo and Kalandja villages, Niafunké Circle, clashed over herding dispute. Four killed and 20 injured.

16 February 2016: Unknown gunmen assassinated head of Douassak Tuareg clan in Inekar, near Ménaka.

18 February 2016: A rocket targeted MINUSMA camp in Tessalit, Mali causing no casualties reportedly.

19 February 2016: Unknown gunmen attacked Malian Army checkpoint in Ménaka. Two Malian soldiers killed and 3 injured. Group identified as Mouvement de la jeunesse pour la libération totale de l’Azawad allegedly claimed responsibility.

19 February 2016: An IED discovered and dismantled in Kidal city.

20 February 2016: MINUSMA logistics convoy struck an IED 6km north of Tabankort while heading to Kidal. No casualties or damages reported.

22 February 2016: Sahara Media said French forces clashed with suspected members of AQIM 150km north of Timbuktu.

23 February 2016: Militants suspected to be members of AQIM attacked Malian Army checkpoint in Léré. Three soldiers reportedly killed and two injured. Also two militants supposedly injured but managed to escape. Suspects arrested at Ber three days later and two taken vehicles were recovered then handed back to the Malian Army by members of the Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA).

23 February 2016: Malian Army vehicle struck an IED near Doro while traveling to Gao. One soldier injured.

24 February 2016: Unknown gunmen seized two vehicles of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) while in a mission at Taboye, Gao region. Vehicles were later recovered by members of Groupe Autodéfense Touareg Imghad et Alliés (GATIA).

25 February 2016 (see image): French vehicle struck an IED near Tabankort. French forces did not report the incident.

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Image of IED targeted French vehicle near Tabankort, Mali. Source: @assakok_6

25 February 2016: Chadian peacekeeper killed his superior and a doctor at MINUSMA camp in Kidal. Chadian peacekeepers reportedly were unhappy with living conditions at the camp.

29 February 2016: MINUSMA vehicle of Chadian peacekeepers struck an IED in Taghlit, located on Aguelhoc-Tessalit transit route. Three peacekeepers injured.

29 February 2016: French forces reportedly targeted an AQIM camp north of Timbuktu. Two AQIM commanders, Abu al-Nour and Marwane al-Misri, were killed during the operation.

29 February 2016: Al-Murabitun spokesman identified as Abu Dejana al-Qasimi (al-Saudi) escaped an operation conducted by French forces in Tilemsi area, Gao region.

17-29 February 2016: Villages in Ménaka area witnessed several violent incidents between different ethnic groups based in the area. Local observers said at least 100 people killed, including civilians and children. Reportedly in one incident at least 10 people killed. On 27 February 2016 unknown gunmen allegedly killed eight civilians near Ménaka. Supposedly the attack took place on Ifokritine and Silatine transit route. Six more killed in clashes on 25 February 2016.

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