Category Archives: Gao

Mali – Sahel: July 2017 violent incidents related to JNIM [AQIM, Ansar al-Din, Al-Murabitoun, and MLF coalition], and other security incidents

By Rida Lyammouri,

September 7th, 2017

MALI – SAHEL: JULY 2017 Monthly Tracker – PDF 

July 2017 by the numbers:

  • JNIM claimed 7 attacks against French, MINUSMA, and Malian forces in July 2017.
  • Casualties summary in July 2017: At least 1 MINUSMA peacekeepers (or contractor) killed and 6 injured; 7 French soldiers injured; 11 Malian soldiers killed and 4 injured; 6 members of armed groups killed; 2 civilians killed and 2 injured in attacks claimed or attributed to JNIM or other VEOs operating in Mali.
  • July 2017 recorded multiple clashes between CMA and Platform forces, mostly in Kidal Region further complicating implementation of peace accord signed over two years ago.
  • Armed robberies against civilians transportation and NGO vehicles in central and northern regions continues to be major security concern.
  • French forces made several arrests of suspects collaborating with jihadist groups in Timbuktu Region.
  • In July 2017 JNIM claimed its first major attacks on Burkinabe and Nigerien forces in Burkina Faso and Niger respectively. Since its creation in March 2017, JNIM almost exclusively operated and only claimed attacks in Mali. During these attacks at least 5 Nigerien and 8 Burkinabe soldiers killed while 3 Nigerien injured.
  • After Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui released a letter threatening MSA and GATIA groups in June, number of attacks recorded in Ménaka Region where the group that pledged allegiance to so-called Islamic State operates.
  • Kisal NGO reported acts of violence by GATIA against Fulani herders following increased attacks by unidentified gunmen. GATIA accuses Fulani herders of collaboration with jihadist groups in Ménaka Region.
  • In Burkina Faso at least 10 people killed in Sahel Region as a result of target assassinations by suspected jihadists.

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Mali: January 2017 Violence Related to AQIM, Ansar al-Din, MUJWA, and Other Security Incidents

By Rida Lyammouri

February 17th, 2017

Analysis and Comments

  • Sahel MeMo recorded at least 106 casualties and 138 injuries, making January 2017 one of the deadliest month in Mali’s history. AQIM Gao attack on 18 JAN 17 is the deadliest by a jihadist group in Mali and the region.
  • Gao attack on Mécanisme Opérationnel de Coordination (MOC in French) the victims were mostly fighters from armed groups.
  • Besides victims of Gao attack most of casualties were recorded among Malian forces, Sahel MeMo recorded at least 15 killed and 14 wounded in January 2017.
  • Sahel MeMo recorded 1 MINUSMA peacekeeper killed and at least 2 injured in January 2017.
  • Sahel MeMo recorded at least 3 assassination attempts against elected officials in central Mali in January 2017.
  • AQIM released video of Beatrice Stockly kidnapped in Timbuktu one year ago, on 07 January 2016.
  • January 2017 witnessed at least 3 attacks on Non-government organizations (NGOs) complicating further any efforts to assist disadvantaged and unprotected population in remote areas, notably northern and central regions.
  • Sahel MeMo recorded at least 18 violent incidents related to violent extremist organizations (VEOs).
  • Sahel MeMo recorded at least 10 armed robberies in northern and central Mali
  • January 2017 witnessed decline in the number of attacks claimed by Ansar al-Din through its media outlet, al-Rimah.
  • Following the Gao attack number of suspects were arrested, including well-known locals in Gao Region. This indicates further possible murky ties between these individuals and militant groups despite differences in ideology.

DOWNLOAD FULL PDF REPORT FROM SAHEL MEMO PAGE

Mali: November 2016 Violence Related to AQIM, Ansar al-Din, MUJWA, and Islamic State Branch in the Sahel

By Rida Lyammouri

January 31, 2017

Full PDF report could be found here: http://www.sahelmemo.com/2017/01/31/mali-november-2016-violence-related-to-aqim-ansar-al-din-mujwa-and-islamic-state-branch-in-the-sahel/

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

By Rida Lyammouri

August 1st, 2016

Violent extremist organizations (VEOs) operating in Mali remained active and operational in Mali throughout the month of July, especially Ansar al-Din. Attacks conducted in Mali were mainly carried by Ansar al-Din, targeting mostly the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and Malian forces. This trend will most likely continue in coming weeks and months in efforts to undermine national and international efforts to stabilize the country. Malian forces suffered one of the deadliest attacks since 2012 when a joint operation by more than one group targeted Malian Army base at Nampala near Mauritanian borders. The incident further demonstrated both the ability of groups to conduct deadly attacks and to demonstrate that Malian Army remains unable to to prevent such attacks. The use of improvised explosive device (IED) remains the main tactic to target Malian and foreign forces, while targeting MINUSMA logistical convoys is in increase with the aim to disrupt peacekeeping operations.

Month of July was also bad in regards the implementation of the peace process. In July 12th, demonstrations by local population opposed to the process in Gao turned violent when Malian forces fired at protestors killing 3 and injuring more than 30. In July 21st fighting erupted between in Kidal between GATIA and CMA, two key actors in the Algiers peace accord. Further violent clashes also took place in July 31st indicating that violence and use of arms remain the strong negotiations language.

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Images of Islamist militants in northern Mali released by al-Mourabitun of AQIM arm media al-Ribat.

Key July Security Events and Trends in Mali:

  • AQIM branch Grand Sahara announced the death of one of its senior commanders, Abu Bakr al-Shenkiti (Mohamed al-Radhi). This is a major loss to the group because of Abu Bakr’s extensive experience fighting in Mali since joining AQIM in 2009.
  • Malian forces arrested on July 26th Ansar al-Din Macina brigade leader identified as Mahmoud Barry (aka Cheick Yahya). Cheick Yahya reported to have played key role in the Nampala attack, and was arrested between Nampala and Dogofri. He made its first public appearance in a first video released by the same brigade May 18th.
  • Malian forces arrested on July 19th key leader of Ansar al-Din southern brigade, Boubacar Wardogo. Wardogo is from Burkina Faso and was leading Ansar al-Din branch operating along Burkina Faso and Mali borders. His brigade was responsible for number of attacks conducted on both sides of the borders. This arrest was a result of investigations that followed the arrest of Yacouba Touré, another key Ansar al-Din figure in the south who was arrested in May.
  • AQIM claimed 0n July 21st responsibility of kidnapping then assassinating High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) senior commander at Ber. Commander was identified as Alhassane Ag Intoua, and was taken from Ber on June 20th. Also, AQIM sent decapitated body of MNLA member, Efad Ag Arikak taken at Ber on June 6th.
  • Ansar al-Din media arm al-Rimah released an infographic with statistics of the Nampala attack claiming to have seized 5 (12.7mm) Doushka and 5 PK machine guns, more than 40 AKs, 5 vehicles, and important amount of ammunition.
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Ansar al-Din inforgraphic with Nampala attacks statistics.

Chronology of  AQIM, Ansar al-Din, and VEO Related Incidents

01 July 2016: Unknown armed militants attacked Malian gendarmerie post in Ménaka. 2 killed and 1 injured.

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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.