Unidentified armed men attacked a truck carrying goods and passengers on the Niger river road from Gao to Ansago on Monday. The truck’s driver was killed, several wounded, and the bandits made off with cash and property. This was somewhere between 100 and 200 km west northwest of the attack on a Nigerien military post that same morning, and more than 300 km south of the carjacking of two aid workers near Kidal last week. See my comments on the carjacking for a summary of what I think is going on (short answer guns + poverty + demobed insurgency + corruption = crime). Please leave your Bin Laden fantasies at the door.
Follow up: (2010-03-13)
An anonymous commentator on the Kidal.info message board poses these details: “The attack is locally attributed to Peul individuals. The truck is owned by Ely Ould Hennoun an Arab trader who resides in Bamako. A young Arab died (the driver) and a Tuareg who accompanied him was seriously wounded in the head. … The killers stole two Thuraya satellite phones and the small sum of about 25,000 FCFA [~ 38 Euros]… This at the cost of two lives.”
I haven’t the vaguest clue if the ethnic insinuations are true, and it would be sad should the Gao-ites be overly concerned about ethnic identity in this sort of crime. But it speaks to the general insecurity and the desperate straits of northern Mali, that someone would kill for a handful of goods. It certainly doesn’t suggest that everyone there is flush with drug money.