Tag Archive for AQIM

Niger: Another kidnap in the north

The French press is reporting that a French tourist and an Algerian guide were kidnapped by armed men today in northern Niger, near the well at In-Abangaret. Also spelled Inabangaret, it’s a stopping place on the Azzouagh plain’s Tahoua/Assamakka/Tama…

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…

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: 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.

Niger: Military post raided on Mali border

Reports are coming in of an attack by unknown assailants on the army post at Tiloa, a village around 12km from the Malian border. Several soldiers were killed. North of the more inhabited Zarmaganda plateau, Tiola is a tiny stop in the desert north of Tondikiwindi rural commune, Ouallam Department, Tillabéri Region. This is the same area in which Nigerien forces clashed with alleged AQIM members last year after a Saudi hunting party was attacked. It is west southwest of where tourists were kidnapped (likely by AQIM themselves) before that, including one Briton who was murdered. More prosaically, this area, just north of sedentary agriculture ends, is a prime smuggling location and an east-west transit route of Tuareg and Arab nomads between Gao and the Air mountains. It is also 20-30 km north of an area plagued by recurring conflict between sedentary and nomadic communities that goes back to before the 19th century.

Mali: Crime and guns in the north threaten health work

Médecins du Monde Belgium reports that three of their health workers were carjacked in the desert north of Youwarou Cercle, Kidal Region on 2 March. Men armed with AK-47s stole a landrover and abandoned the workers in the desert. The MMB workers were part of a anti-Dracunculiasis (Guinea Worm) clinic in Youwarou. Sadly, such car robberies are not unknown, especially after the wave of weapons that flooded the region during the 2007-2008 insurgency. Similar robberies from aid agencies were reported after the 1990s and the 2006 violence, with cars taken across the border to Mauritania or as far away as Morocco to be sold. While I'm sure someone will blame "terrorists" it seems clear if you give young men guns and no jobs, especially in a region with a centuries old tradition of trade / smuggling, you'll get car robberies. I would hope government might deal with these issues before calling in AFRICOM with their missiles and bombs.