Two military camps in northern Mali captured by armed men
Two military camps in the town of Lere, in the Timbuktu Region of northern Mali, were seized by armed men on Sunday, according to two elected officials and a Malian military official who spoke to AFP.
The armed men reportedly engaged in fighting with the Malian soldiers before taking over the camps.
The Malian military confirmed on its social media accounts that Lere had been attacked on Sunday, but did not provide any details about the identity or the motive of the attackers. A Malian military official told AFP that the army was “in the process of dealing with the situation.”
An elected official from Lere told AFP that the armed men had attacked the two camps in the town on Sunday morning. “After fighting, the armed men took the camps. We are waiting for reinforcement from the army, but for the moment it is the armed men who hold the camps,” he said.
Armed group claims responsibility for the attack
A spokesman for an alliance of predominantly Tuareg armed groups claimed responsibility for the attack on Lere, saying that it was a response to the Malian army’s violations of a 2015 peace agreement. The alliance, known as the Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA), is one of the signatories of the agreement, which was meant to end years of conflict and instability in northern Mali.
The spokesman, Almou Ag Mohamed, told AFP that the CMA had attacked Lere because the Malian army had “illegally” established two military camps there, in violation of the peace agreement. He also accused the army of committing “atrocities” against civilians in Lere and other areas.
Ag Mohamed said that the CMA had killed several soldiers and captured some weapons and vehicles during the attack. He also said that the CMA was ready to hand over the camps to a joint security force composed of representatives of the Malian government, the CMA and another armed group, known as Platform, which is also a signatory of the peace agreement.
Attack raises concerns over peace and security in northern Mali
The attack on Lere raises concerns over the fragile peace and security situation in northern Mali, which has been plagued by violence and instability since 2012, when a Tuareg rebellion and a coup d’etat triggered a series of events that led to the occupation of northern Mali by Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda.
With the help of French and African forces, the Malian government managed to regain control of most of northern Mali in 2013, but sporadic attacks and clashes have continued to occur between various armed groups and security forces. The 2015 peace agreement was supposed to bring an end to the conflict and pave the way for reconciliation and development, but its implementation has been slow and uneven.
The attack on Lere also comes at a time when Mali is undergoing a political transition following two military coups in less than a year. The first coup in August 2020 ousted former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, while the second coup in May 2021 removed interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane. The current interim President is Colonel Assimi Goita, who led both coups.
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