Monthly Archives: June 2016

Mali: Armed group emerged in central Mali to defend Fulani people

By Rida Lyammouri

June 20th, 2016

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View of a mosque at Mopti, Mopti region, central Mali. Source: RFI

On June 19th a new armed group emerged in central Mali, Alliance Nationale pour la Souvegarde de l’Identité Peule et la Restauration de la Justice (ANSIPRJ), roughly translated to the National Alliance for the Protection of Fulani Identity and the Restoration of Justice. The movement is reportedly a political-armed group, non-jihadist, and not seeking independence from Mali. However it is created primarily for the purpose to defend the Fulani people of Mali against the Malian Army and Militias, according to the group’s secretary general identified as Oumar Aldjana. Mr. Aldjana stated the group is made of 700 fighters, and has some backing among Malian politicians and Fulani diaspora.

This in response to the way Malian Army and government handled reports of abuse against Fulani civilians. In April 2016 Kawral Poulakou, Malian association of Fulani community led by Mr. Aldjana requested meeting with Malian authorities to discuss alleged killing of Fulani civilians suspected of ties with the Macina Liberation Front (MLF).The MLF is a group that emerged early 2015 with ties to other jihadist groups operating in Mali, notably Ansar al-Din and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Because there was no response from the Malian government now Mr. Aldjana said: “Our enemy number one on the ground now is the Malian Army that continues to arm militias against Fulani civilians.” The movement accuse the Malian Army of unfair treatment of Fulani civilians arrested. Since January 2015 several acts of abuse by the Malian Army against Fulani civilians and suspects were recorded according to Human Rights Watch recorded.

The creation of this new group came during a time when inter-community tensions causing major concerns in central Mali, as the International Crisis Group (ICG) warned. Little attention was given to the conflict when international community and Malian government are focused on the implementation of the peace accord in northern Mali. However the attention central Mali is getting it is mostly related to the MLF and concerns about jihadist groups, not tribal tensions. True that violence in central Mali was dominated by attacks conducted by the MLF but the region witnessed a noticeable increase in deadly inter-community clashes since December 2015, especially between Fulani and Bambara communities.

As it did so often Malian Army and central government are mishandling central Mali conflict, and there are already some regrettable consequences. In response to Malian Army acts, members of Fulani community released a video in May 2015 calling all Fulani youth to fight the Malian Army and Bambara community. There was no reference in the video to the MLF but surely Mali was about to loose a key ally, at least part of Fulani community, in an area where there is an ongoing fight against a violent extremist organization, the MLF. Although the new group claim to have no ties with the MLF and is non-jihadist, it also claimed that Malian Army is its enemy number one. As a result the presence of an anti-Mali armed group in the region will further complicate efforts against the MLF and allies. The MLF and ANSIPRJ might not share same ideology but both have same enemy [Malian Army], and tribal ties. As a result failure to address the issue collaboration remains a valid possibility.

 

 

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Niger: Images of displaced population affected by recent Boko Haram violence.

By Rida Lyammouri

June 11, 2015

There are no words to describe what people displaced because of violence related to Boko Haram in SE Niger are going through. This humanitarian tragedy is caused by a group that claims to represent and defend Muslims in Nigeria and neighboring countries. Yet it is causing such harm to innocent people during the holy month of Ramadan. These displaced people are the true Muslims because despite violence and the heat, they are most likely observing the holy month of Ramadan. People are walking miles in 100+ degrees, including women, children, and elders. Access to water is limited and almost non-existent. Keep them in our thoughts during this holy month.

These images speak for themselves and thank you to International Rescue Committee (IRC), International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC), Medecin Sans Frontiere (MSF), OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) Niger, UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), and others who shared these telling images with us through twitter.

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Updated: New Boko Haram leader, Bana Blachera with new agenda?

By Rida Lyammouri

June 9th, 2016

Note: Information is taken mostly from an article published by Le Monde, French newspaper. I summarized the article her for non-French speaking observers and for more exposure to assist audience interested in the issue have clear image of what’s going on.

There are no ways of verifying these important information provided by this article, and most of observers been following conflict for years agreed that Boko Haram expansion claim to CAR or Uganda is baseless and all remain skeptical. This skepticism is also due to previous similar claims with no concrete evidence. Furthermore the author does not provide a substantiate any of his claims, one observer very familiar with the issue. Something we should keep an eye on is the new alleged leader, Bana Blachera.

The fall of Bosso briefly in the hands of Boko Haram doesn’t indicate the group is looking to occupy and govern a territory. According to the article this is more of new strategy within the group under new leadership, and attempt to have access to more weapons, fuel, vehicles, and foodstuff.

Boko Haram or the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) carried series of attacks on Niger. The debate heated again between officials and observers about the seriousness of links between Boko Haram and the so called Islamic State. One answer to these recent attacks could be new leadership among the group trying to establish its trademark. Reportedly, Boko Haram has a new leader. New leader is identified as Bana Blachera, a Cameroonian citizen who joined the group since early days of existence under Mohamed Yusuf in 2002. Bana Blachera reportedly does not have the same religious/ideology drive like Mohamed Yusuf, the charismatic founder of Boko Haram. Unlike Abubakar Shekau, he doesn’t like making media appearances and videos.

Blachera is more of a man who likes to be on the field and carry operations rather than preaching. He made his name within the group by excelling at being the man in charge of logistics. He was in charge of facilitating movement of supplies such as weapons and fuel. Supposedly Blachera seized the opportunity of its leader, Shekau, weakened by an illness to make name for himself. Blachera have made the difference and given to supposedly weakened and defeated group the firepower needed to carry deadly attack on Nigerien Army in Bosso June 3rd. This attack and others on surrounding villages brought back the group to the map for anyone thinking otherwise.

Video released by ISWAP showed important number of well armed fighters of Boko Haram able to defeat a state Army, and forcing them to retreat. With new agenda and intention to expand to other African countries, notably Uganda and Central Africa, Blachera was of key leaders invested in pledging allegiance to the so called Islamic State in 2015. The article stated that the group relies on weapons smuggled from Sudan and Libya.

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Boko Haram / ISWPA fighters in Bosso attack June 3rd. Video released by ISWAP

For the new leadership of Boko Haram, Central African Republic, where the central government has been weakened by war between Anti-Balaka and Seleka, represents an ideal target for recruitment to serve as fallback base. Boko Haram seem also to take advantage of the slow process of collaboration between regional forces to expand into new territories.

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Boko Haram / ISWAP vehicle with mounted machine gun during Bosso attack June 3rd.

 

Updated: Rundown of Boko Haram attacks on Bosso, Yébi, Diffa region in last 2 weeks

By Rida Lyammouri

June 4th, 2016 (updated June 10th)

Consequences of recent increased violence in Diffa region by Boko Haram militants:

  • Until May 2016 many villages, including Bosso, were considered safe places to many refugees that fled violence in NE Nigeria, N. Cameroon, and Chad. However, already displaced population were forced to flee several location. For instance, in Yébi, Medecin Sans Frontriere (MSF) was managing a health post that provided assistance to people who had already been displaced—until it was destroyed May 19th attack.
  • From security standpoint, population fleeing villages have left a void and likely made it easier for Boko Haram militants to move easily without being detected and reported.
  • More than 200,000 displaced population settled in Diffa region fleeing Boko Haram violence in NE Nigeria and Niger itself. However Boko Haram recent attacks forced at least 50,000 to relocate to Diffa and even further to Zinder.
  • The Islamic State in West African Province (ISWAP) released statement on June 4th claiming June 3rd attack on Bosso military post, but not the attacks on civilians at Yébi. Here is a summary of the statement released by ISWAP: “With the help of God, Caliphate soldiers carried a large scale attack with different types of weapons on a military base in Bosso, southeastern Niger where Nigérien and Nigerian soldiers are based. Caliphate soldiers killed at least 35 and injured other 70 from both, Nigérien and Nigerian armies, also seized important amount of weapons before mujahideen safely returned to their base.”
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ISWAP claim of Bosso attack

On May 19th, at least six civilians killed and seven injured when Boko Haram carried an attack on Yébi village, 5km from Bosso, according to Niger’s Army. Reportedly, four of the victims were burned alive and two shot dead. Yébi was one of few villages in the area where local population remained but according to statement posted on Urgence Diffa Facebook page the entire village now is burned. The attack was conducted at night from 10:00pm until 02:30am. Statement also indicated that Nigérien military did not respond until in the morning where they pursued members of Boko Haram. Because of physical damage to the village it was believed that casualties are far more than what Nigérien Army reported. Statement estimated number of casualties to be 23 and expected to increase. Worse, while majority of people were able to flee and hide in the bushes near the village, victims could be mostly women, children, and elders that were unable to escape according to the statement. Numbers are difficult to confirm but what’s alarming is the ability of Boko Haram members to easily conduct such attacks on unprotected civilians and causing such damages.

On May 27th, Nigérien Army clashed with Boko Haram members at Bosso. The attack was launched by large number of Boko Haram members but Nigérien security forces successfully pushed them back. Reportedly, security forces killed around 12 Boko Haram members and seized important amount of equipment according to an army statement. Also three Nigérien soldiers lightly injured. According to a local, the assault started toward the end of the day by 5:30pm and ended around 8:00pm. 

On May 31st, Boko Haram again attacked village Yébi. Reportedly six civilians killed while number of the injured is unknown. Again, Boko Haram again carried the attack at night around 10:00pm and clashes with security forces of Niger lasted until 04:00am. Number of Boko Haram conducted the attack were reportedly around 40.

On June 3rd, Boko Haram launched even larger scale attack on Nigérien Army based in Bosso. Nigérien Defense Ministry stated that more than 100s of Boko Haram members participated in the attack. While reportedly 30 Nigérien and 2 Nigerian soldiers are killed, 67 other soldiers wounded (ISWAP claimed killing 35 and wounding 70), and there are no reported casualties among civilians. This is largely because most of the population have left the village and Bosso is more like a military base today. Boko Haram again launched the attack at night and captured the village of Bosso overnight. Larger Nigérien Army reinforcement arrived the following morning and managed to recapture the village after Boko Haram have already left. According to Aïr-Info Agadez quoting local sources, Boko Haram abandoned the village early in the morning with important amount of arms, tanks, and foodstuff. Same source also stated Boko Haram left with hostages after burning and ransacking public buildings. There are concerns about unknown number of soldiers missing while the faith of civilians fled the attack remains unknown.

This attack on Bosso came three days after Nigérien Defense Minister told BBC reporter that Boko Haram don’t have the capacity to attack security forces of Niger. True that since Boko Haram started conducting attacks in Niger in February 2015 mainly targeted civilians. However now the group demonstrated its ability to carry even more deadly attack on Niger security forces. Niger simply doesn’t have the resources to protect its borders against the spillover of violence not only from Nigeria, but also from Mali and Libya. Coming months are critical for Niger with increased pressure on violent extremist groups operating in Mali, Nigeria, and more importantly on the so-called Islamic State in Libya.

June 5-6, Boko Haram militants and Nigérien Army clashed in Bosso. Mayor told Reuters that Boko Haram seized control of the town while Nigérien government stated later in the day Niger forces were in total control of the village. Local source reported that clashes moved toward a nearby village, Toumour, west of Bosso, and local population is genuinely concerned. Aïr-Agadez posted on its Facebook page confirmed that Boko Haram militants occupy Toumour as well.

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Statement above by Air-Info Agadez claiming Boko Haram militants occupy Toumour, a village located west of Bosso on the way to Diffa.

June 9th:  Village Kablewa was reportedly attacked by armed men around 2am. Although there were no casualties or violence clashes, local witnesses said gunmen seized goods and foodstuff from local stores they robbed.

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Diffa city entrance. Source: Maghreb and Sahel Blog

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Most of displaced population settled in Diffa had to stay outdoors. Source: UNHCR 

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

By Rida Lyammouri

June 1st, 2016

Violent extremist organizations (VEOs) operating in Mali remained in May aggressive and deadly throughout northern and central Mali. VEOs operational in Mali include Ansar al-Din, the Macina Liberation Front (MLF) or Ansar al-Din southern brigade, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA or MUJAO). The Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), French, and Malian forces remain the main target. Improvised explosive device (IED) still the main tactic used by VEOs. However May deadliest attacks saw the use of IED followed by an ambush on MINUSMA and Malian forces. At least 22 MINUSMA peacekeepers and Malian soldiers killed in May, deadliest month in 2016.

In addition to violence related to VEOs Mopti region witnessed in May deadly inter-community clashes between Fulani and Bambara communities, at least 25 people killed. Civilians remain vulnerable against armed robberies, especially in central and northern Mali. This is largely a result of weapons availability and lack of permanent security presence. Vehicles, non-government organizations (NGO) workers, and private companies operating in central and northern Mali were repeatedly targeted by armed robbers. French private construction company SATOM was targeted near Goundam. One Orange vehicle was abducted in the same area while the driver was killed. In Ménaka, two vehicles were taken while three NGO workers were abducted before being released by six armed men. Another NGO vehicle was also taken in Gao. While main focus is to limit VEO operations in Mali these acts of armed banditry against NGO workers and vehicles will further complicate efforts to assist vulnerable population in northern and central Mali.

Key Numbers:

  • Mali recorded at least 16 VEO related violent incidents in central and northern regions.
  • In May MINUSMA was targeted 5 times. At least 11 peacekeepers and 3 contractors killed, and 14 injured. This number could rise after the two attacks in Gao on 31 May 2016.
  • In May Malian forces were targeted 9 times. At least 11 Malian soldiers killed and 11 injured.
  • IED were used in all 5 attacks against MINUSMA while 3 times IED attacks followed by an ambush.
  • 3 IED out of 8 total attacks were used against Malian forces.
  • IED and ambush tactic:
    • All MINUSMA casualties were result of IED attacks. Also 10 out of 11 MINUSMA casualties were result of two IED attacks followed by an ambush.
    • 7 out 10 Malian soldiers killed were result of an IED attack
  • Two Burkina Faso police posts near borders with Mali were attacked by unknown gunmen. AQIM and allies previously conducted similar attacks in addition to kidnappings in January 2016. Short assessment on VE in Burkina here.

Comments/Analysis:

  • Kidal Region: Ansar al-Din in collaboration with AQIM brigades al-Ansar and Youssuf Ibn Tachefin remain a major threat to peacekeeping, counterterrorism, humanitarian and development operations in the area.
  • Central Mali: Ansar al-Din south or better known as the Macina Liberation Front (MLF) is a major threat to Malian and MINUSMA forces in Mopti region, but also on the borders with Mauritania and Timbuktu region near Goundam.
  • Gao Region: AQIM and the remaining small brigades of MUJWA and possibly Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui men will continue to be a major concern on transit routes connecting Gao – Ansongo – Ménaka. Also these groups are increasingly becoming a serious threat to areas in Niger and Burkina Faso bordering with Mali.
  • Rainy season starts in June in the area and lasts until September/October. This might limit movement of VEOs in northern and central Mali, and neighboring countries but does not indicate VEOs going to stop exploiting opportunities to carry attacks against Malian and foreign forces in the region.

Violent Extremist Organisation (VEO) Related Incidents

03 May 2016: MINUSMA vehicle struck an IED while another vehicle was set on fire at Agoufou, 25km of Gossi, Timbuktu region. Two peacekeepers injured.

03 – 04 May 2016: Unknown gunmen attacked Malian military post at Nampala, near borders with Mauritania. Reportedly no victims but attackers seized one Malian Army vehicle when security forces abandoned their post at checkpoint.

04 May 2016: United Nations Mine Action Services (UNMAS) discovered and destroyed an IED near Malian Army checkpoint in Ménaka.

06 May 2016: Four gunmen on motorcycles attacked Malian forces guarding Tassiga Bridge, near Ansongo. One Malian soldier, one assailant killed and one arrested while others managed to escape. MUJWA attempted to blow-up and damaged the same bridge in January 2013.

09 May 2016: Important figure of Ansar al-Din arrested. Identified as Souleymane Keïta, he was reportedly in charge of arms and other logistical support for Ansar al-Din southern brigade.

10 May 2016: Unknown gunmen attacked Malian Army post in Bamba, Gao region. One Malian soldier and one attacker killed.

11 May 2016: Malian Army vehicle struck an IED in Ebanguimalane, between Gossi and Hombori in Gao region. Two Malian soldiers killed and three injured, including a high-ranked Colonel.

12 May 2016: Suspected AQIM members conducted a kidnapping attempt on village chief in Farach, Timbuktu region. Reportedly, fighters of CMA clashed and repelled AQIM attempt. Two AQIM and two CMA fighters reportedly killed.

14 May 2016: Suspected jihadists assassinated Malian Military surgeon in Gao city.

14 May 2016: French forces targeted and destroyed a vehicle belonging to unknown jihadist group in Tabankort, Gao region. Three suspected jihadists killed.

18 May 2016: MINUSMA vehicle struck an IED then ambushed 15km north of Aguelhok, Kidal region. Five Chadian peacekeepers killed and three severely injured. Three civilians were arrested by Chadian peacekeepers following the attack. Reportedly one died later on after being beaten by Chadian peacekeepers while two others released.

21 May 2016: Gunmen attacked Malian Army protecting logistical site of SATOM between Goundam and Timbuktu. One soldier killed and four injured.

22 May 2016: Gunmen abducted vehicle of Orange, French network provider, between Goundam and Timbuktu. The driver/Orange employee killed.

22 May 2016: MINUSMA vehicle struck an IED then ambushed while traveling from Sévaré to Dioura, central Mali. Five peacekeepers suffered minor injuries.

23 May 2016: Local witness said unidentified gunmen attacked MNLA vehicle in Kidal. Two injured.

24 May 2016: Gunmen attacked Malian Army convoy between In-Tillit and Gao. Two suspects arrested.

24 May 2016: Citerne carrying water escorted by Malian Army struck an IED between Gossi and Hombori. No casualties reported. Source: Radio Naata 

27 May 2016: Malian Army vehicles struck two IEDs then ambushed between Ménaka and Ansongo, near In-Delimane. Five soldiers killed and four injured.

27 May 2016: Civilian truck struck an IED in Ménaka city. No casualties reported.

29 May 2016: MINUSMA convoy struck an IED then ambushed 30km west of Sévaré, central Mali. Five peacekeepers killed and one severely injured.

31 May 2016: Double attacks targeted MINUSMA and UNMAS sites in Gao. First was reportedly a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack against Chinese peacekeepers post. One Chinese peacekeeper killed and two others severely injured. Almost simultaneously gunmen attacked a hotel hosting UNMAS experts. Three contractors total killed including two Malian private security officers and one French UNMAS expert.

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AQIM statement claiming 31 May 2016 Gao attacks through al-Andalus.

Attacks in Burkina Faso and Niger near Malian Borders

17 May 2016: Unknown gunmen attacked police station at Koutougou, Soum commune near borders with Mali. Two policemen injured and despite reinforcements managed to escape and remain at large.

31 May 2016: Unknown gunmen attacked police station at Intangon of Oudalan, 25km from Tin Akoff, Burkina Faso. Three policemen killed. In 15 January 2016 similar attack took place when three gendarmes were killed.

23-24 May 2016: Unknown gunmen abducted NGO vehicle near Mangaize refugee camp in Tillabéry, Niger. Two NGO workers were also taken but released later on unharmed.

 

Violence Related to Tribal Tensions 

31 April – 01 May 2016 recorded alarming violent clashes between Fulani and Bambara communities at Karéri commune, Ténenkou Circle, Mopti region in central Mali. Reportedly at least 22 killed from Fulani community when Bambara militia acted in revenge to the killing of three Bambara members, including Mayor deputy of Karéri

01 May 2016: Reportedly, at least 8 civilians killed in clashes between Fulani and Bambara communities in Mopti region, central Mali.

01 May 2016: Local witness reported three Fulani and one Tuareg killed by Bambara militia at Malemana, 40km west of Dioura, central Mali. A man identified as Bachoura Coulibaly leads the Bambara militia. During burial ceremony, same militia fired at the crowd present at the cemetery killing unknown number of civilians present at the cemetery.

11 May 2016: As a result of ongoing tensions between Fulani and Bambara communities, one armed Bambara killed by armed Fulani men at Tjikéré-Finadji, 50km west of Dioura, Mopti region.

14 May 2016: Reportedly, members of GATIA attacked a GandaIzo post at Ndaki in Gossi commune. The incident recorded three victims.

26 May 2016: Local witness reported armed men from Fulani community assassinated two Imghad Tuareg 30km south of In-Tellit.

Armed Robberies

02 May 2016: Six armed men abducted vehicle of a water supply company in Timbuktu. Driver said robbers also took his cellphone and a bottle of water. Radio Alfarook

05 May 2016: Armed men abducted vehicle of DDRG (Développement Durable de la Région de Gao), a local NGO, 5km of Tessit, Ansongo Circle, Gao Region. Radio Aadar Koukia

07 May 2016: Gunmen attacked transportation bus at Firchindi near Ansongo. Bandits robbed all passengers from their belongings before tying the driver. Radio Aadar Koukia

07 May 2016: Reportedly, two Malian soldiers killed and five injured during an accident while pursuing armed robbers near Ansongo.

10 May 2016: Armed men attacked and looted two major shops at Goundam. Three Sanili motorcycles were also taken. Radio Djimba Bodo

16 May 2016: Unknown gunmen abducted a vehicle belonging to an NGO in Gao at district 7.

16 May 2016: Civilian vehicle taken by armed men between Douentza and Bambara-Maoude. Two passengers injured and their goods were stolen.

18 May 2016: Two vehicles belonging to an NGO taken by six armed men near Ménaka, including employees of Medecin Sans Frontiere (MSF) that were released.

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NGO vehicles and citerne truck near Ménaka. Source: Maghreb and Sahel Blog

18 May 2016: Unknown gunmen fired at a local merchant at the main market in Kidal.

21 May 2016: Three trucks robbed by armed robbers near In-Delimane between Ménaka and Ansongo. Source: Radio Aadar Koukia

22 May 2016: Four gunmen abducted civilian vehicle arriving from Douékiré, 40km from Goundam. Armed robbers seized all goods and money from passengers and no casualties reported. Source: Radio Djimba Bodo

23 May 2016: Gunmen carried an attack on Dabi village, 20km of Niafunké. Motorcycles taken.

24 May 2016: Four gunmen robbed a truck transporting civilians 40km from Ménaka. Source: Radio Aadar Koukia

30 May 2016: Two armed robbers attempted to rob a bus transporting civilians between Ansongo and Ménaka. Passengers succeeded at disarming and killing the two bandits. Weapons were returned to Malian gendarmerie based in Ansongo. Source: Radio Aadar Koukia

 

Simultaneous Attacks on MINUSMA and UNMAS in Gao, Mali

By Rida Lyammouri,

May 31st, 2016

Here is what we know so far about Gao attack.

Tuesday night the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization in Mali (MINUSMA) and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) were targeted in Gao by almost simultaneous attacks. First around 20:45 MINUSMA camp located at Château d’Eau district came under either mortars or rockets attack. Facts still to be confirmed but at least one Chinese peacekeeper killed while three seriously injured. Furthermore, dozens of MINUSMA staff members, including civilians, were slightly injured. While preliminary damages are being assessed, initial information indicates that housing containers for staff were destroyed. The severity of physical damages and earlier reporting from locals about loud explosion indicate possible use of suicide bomber in a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. France24 reported it was a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) that targeted Chinese peacekeepers post. One Chinese peacekeeper killed and two others severely injured.

Almost simultaneously gunmen attacked a hotel hosting UNMAS experts. Three contractors total killed including two Malian private security officers and one French UNMAS expert.

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Image of Chateau d’Eau in Gao, Mali. Source: Maghreb and Sahel Blog.

It is difficult and unclear to know which group is responsible for this attacks and no group have claimed responsibility of the attack yet. In February, two similar attacks were conducted against MINUSMA camps in Timbuktu and Kidal that were claimed by AQIM and Ansar al-Din respectively. Gao was occupied in 2012 by the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), although the group have been weakened and not claimed any attacks for over a year since it broke away from al-Murabitun and Mokhtar Belmokhtar. While AQIM and Ansar al-Din barely operated around Gao city, Belmokhtar was living there in 2012 where built ties with MUJWA leaders. A fraction of MUJWA led by Adnane Abu Walid al-Sahraoui pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State in May 2015 but yet to make a signature attack. Al-Sahraoui men operates in Gao region on the borders with Niger and northern Burkina Faso where they were responsible of kidnapping a Romanian citizen in April 2015. Won’t be surprising if al-Sahraoui men are behind Gao attacks, but lets not take Ansar al-Din and AQIM branch led by Abu Talha out of the equations since were the most active in the past year and responsible for most of the attacks.