Mali

AQIM: More hostage stories

Philomène Kaboré and her husband Sergio Cicala have given interviews regarding their captivity: she having been released some time ago, and he Friday the 16th. They were taken in Mauritania, near the border with Mali, on their way south. Ms. Kaboré says they were kept confined, but treated well. They were not held by the AQIM kidnappers directly but by intermediaries, but were free to walk about in a isolated camp, well fed, and not beaten. The camp itself was so isolated they did not know what country they were in. Does this suggest strength or weakness of their captors? That they have resources and supporters enough that they need not be involved with their prisoners? Or that the AQIM are too hounded to keep a steady and secure base area? Or does it suggest that the AQIM, having begun to pay others to kidnap for them, now are outsourcing the entire operation to smugglers and friendly tribes?

AQIM: More hostage stories

Philomène Kaboré and her husband Sergio Cicala have given interviews regarding their captivity: she having been released some time ago, and he Friday the 16th. They were taken in Mauritania, near the border with Mali, on…

Mali: Creeping famine in the north

Issikta blog republishes an urgent appeal from the mayors of Adielhoc and Tinzawaten communes in Kidal Region, northeast Mali. In a land where seasonally migrating animal herds are the economic foundation, there are reports of %40 of herds starving for…

Mali: Release of two of five AQIM hostages

Philomena Kabour, the Burkina-Italian wife of Sergio Cicala, kidnapped near in Mauritania was released, along with Alicia Gamez, one of three Catalan aid workers kidnapped north of Nouakchott. All appear to have been taken to a AQIM camp in the remote Saharan north of Mali. Roque Pascual and Albert Vilalta (the Catalans kidnapped November 29) and Cicala (kidnapped December 18) remain hostage. There is no word on what was exchanged. Burkina authorities were the intermediaries for Kabour's release.

Mali: ‘Bandits’ attack truck on Gao – Ansago road

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.