14. The reporting period was characterized by a marked deterioration in the security situation in the north. A number of attacks using improvised explosive devices revealed that terrorist and other groups had reorganized themselves and regained some ability to operate. Kidal saw renewed flare-ups of tension, and intercommunal clashes were reported in the Gao and Timbuktu regions.
15. The Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa claimed responsibility for several incidents in Gao. On 7 October, seven rockets were launched on the city of Gao, critically wounding one Malian soldier. The same day, a bridge located 45 km south-east of Ansongo was partially damaged by an improvised explosive device. On 30 October, two additional rockets were launched on Gao city. On 15 November, at least one rocket was launched in Ménaka. On 21 November, three additional rockets were launched at Gao city. These rocket attacks did not result in any casualties.
16. On 8 November, two armed elements were arrested in Ti-n-Anzarargane (Gao region) during a coordinated patrol by the Malian armed forces, MINUSMA and Operation Serval. An exchange of fire between MNLA members and a detachment of the Malian armed forces resulted in the death of three MNLA combatants and the injury of at least one other.
17. Intercommunal tensions continue to be a source of concern. On 19 October, nine individuals of Arab origin were kidnapped by Tuaregs in Tabankort (Gao region). In a related development on 25 October, a Tuareg man was abducted by Arab men between Tarkint and Hersan in the area of Bourem (Gao region). On 31 October, in Timbuktu region, nine Arabs were killed by members of the Tuareg community in Tilemsi, on the border with Mauritania, in what appears to be a series of retaliatory attacks between the two groups.
18. On 23 October, four individuals drove and detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device into a MINUSMA checkpoint in Tessalit. Seven people were killed, including four adult civilians, a six-year-old boy and two MINUSMA peacekeepers. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack. On 4 November, four civilians were killed and seven injured by a command-wire improvised explosive device on the road between Ménaka and Ansongo. On 13 November, a Malian army vehicle escorting two foreign journalists was targeted by an explosive formed penetrator device near Almoustarat in Gao region. A Malian soldier was injured. On 20 November, a Serval vehicle was targeted by what was apparently a radio-controlled improvised explosive device in Kidal, causing injuries to three French soldiers. On 30 November, a suicide bomber activated a person-borne improvised explosive device near Ménaka, killing himself but causing no other casualties. On 14 December, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device was detonated in Kidal, killing two MINUSMA Senegalese soldiers and injuring seven other peacekeepers and four Malian soldiers. In the wake of that attack, amid rumours that two vehicles laden with explosives remained in the city ready to detonate, on 16 December MINUSMA peacekeepers guarding the Kidal Governorate fired at a vehicle approaching their position at high speed when the driver ignored an order to stop. In two other instances during the same day, MINUSMA troops fired at motorcyclists who had driven close to their vehicles and wounded a rider. The following day, Kidal shopkeepers demonstrated to protest those incidents. On 21 December, an improvised explosive device hit a MINUSMA logistics convoy on the road between Gao and Anefis, injuring a peacekeeper.
20. The deterioration of the security situation was particularly acute in Kidal. In addition to asymmetric attacks, on 2 November, two French journalists were abducted and killed in the city of Kidal. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and the killings. On 3 November, in Tassik, 43 km south-south-east of Kidal, two soldiers of the Malian armed forces assaulted three emissaries sent by a traditional leader of Kidal to settle an internal dispute.
21. On 28 November, the Prime Minister and a delegation of government officials intended to visit Kidal to install officially the Governor in the Governorate building that had recently been vacated by MNLA. As previously agreed with the Governor of Kidal, the Malian armed forces, Serval and a MINUSMA formed police unit deployed around the airstrip. Approximately 100 civilians gathered at the airstrip to demonstrate against the visit. Demonstrators threw stones at the Malian army personnel, who fired their weapons, injuring four demonstrators. The Prime Minister called off his visit. Although Serval and MINUSMA ensured that the civilians who were wounded in the incident received prompt medical attention, one of the women died, on 5 December, in Bamako. On 16 December, five rockets or mortars exploded in the vicinity of the joint Serval-MINUSMA camp.
22. Operation Serval intervened four times in support of MINUSMA in situations of imminent and serious threat. At Tessalit, on 23 October, following the asymmetric attack against MINUSMA, Serval provided immediate support through the medical evacuation of six wounded peacekeepers and the defusing of residual explosive devices. Serval also helped with the response to attacks on MINUSMA in Ménaka on three occasions in November. Two incidents involved attempts by armed groups to gain access to MINUSMA premises, and a third was in response to an attack on MINUSMA in Ti-n-Anzarargane.
23. The preliminary agreement provides, inter alia, for the cantonment of armed groups as a first step, pending a broader disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process in the context of a comprehensive peace settlement. The current cantonment process serves as an interim stabilization measure, but important challenges persist. MNLA and HCUA, which claim to comprise between 7,000 and 10,000 members in total, have submitted to the Mixed Technical Commission on Security a list of 9,088 combatants for Kidal region alone. However, only 1,847 of those combatants have been listed for cantonment. An even smaller number is actually cantoned in three sites in Kidal region. Armed groups point to the prevailing insecurity in the north as a key factor preventing the cantonment of more combatants.
24. MINUSMA supports the cantonment process at the strategic and technical levels. In addition to providing logistical support, food and water to MNLA and HCUA combatants in the three existing cantonment sites, MINUSMA is helping the Government to design a cantonment strategy in order to better define the scope of the process and eventual transition towards the necessary disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. The Mission is also identifying sources of funding to enhance logistical support to the existing cantonment sites as well as the possible establishment of eight additional sites, including for combatants of the Mouvement arabe de l’Azawad and Coordination des mouvements et forces patriotiques de résistance. In addition to material and technical support, MINUSMA is also advocating for the implementation of community-based initiatives to accompany the process and sustain a peaceful environment in the communities adjacent to cantonment sites.
(Source/bron: Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Mali, United Nations Security Council, 2 January 2014)
Zie ook: Nederlandse missie in Mali
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