Kamis, 05 April 2012

Mali update as we see the abyss beckon......and as one looks into the abyss , recall the abyss looks into you


Diplomats kidnapped from Algerian consulate in Mali

By News Wires (text)
Armed Islamists took control of the Algerian consulate in Gao, northeastern Mali, on Thursday, kidnapping seven diplomats including the consul, Algeria's foreign ministry said. Algeria has mobilised a crisis team to follow developments.

AFP - Armed Islamists seized the Algerian consulate in Gao in northeastern Mali on Thursday and abducted seven diplomats, Algeria's foreign ministry and witnesses said.
"The consul and six members of the Algerian consular mission have been taken to an unknown destination," the foreign ministry said in a statement published by the APS news agency.
"A crisis team has been established to follow developments so that everything necessary will be done to ensure the safe and sound return of our nationals."
Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci said the government was "fully mobilised" to ensure the diplomats' release.
"We do not know who is currently holding them," APS reported him as saying.
Algeria said an "unidentified group" had carried out the attack. Witnesses told AFP the raiders had hoisted the black Salafist flag that has been the emblem of Islamist rebels who have overrrun Timbuktu and other northern cities.
"I am currently in front of the Algerian consulate in district four in Gao. Armed Islamists have entered the consulate, arrested the diplomats and staff and taken down the Algerian flag to put up their own," one witness told AFP in Bamako by telephone.
"I am next to the Algerian consulate, at the moment I can see black men, armed, around the consulate and inside. They have replaced the Algerian flag with a black flag with Arabic writing," another witness said
"I saw the Salafists' flag in place of the Algerian flag at the consulate but at the consul's house the Algerian flag is still up," said a third.
The town of Gao, which housed the regional military headquarters, was seized on Saturday by Tuareg and Islamists linked to Al-Qaeda splinter group the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa.

With the town split between the various rebel groups, lawlessness has been rife. Humanitarian workers and locals have told of widespread looting of government and private buildings and car theft.
The military rulers in Bamako who seized power two weeks ago have accused the rebels in Gao of kidnapping and raping women and girls.



France calls for dialogue with Mali rebels, unity against al Qaeda

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called for political dialogue with Tuareg rebels in Mali and called for regional co-operation to fight al Qaeda's expansion in the area.

By FRANCE 24  (video)
FRANCE 24  (text)
In Thursday’s exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 and RFI, French Minister of Foreign Affairs Alain Juppe urged West African nations to engage in political dialogue with Tuareg rebels in Mali.
"There will not be a military solution with the Tuaregs. There needs to be a political solution," Juppe said, adding that countries in the region needed to begin talks in order to accomplish this.
Meanwhile in Mali, the MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad), announced they had ended their military operations after claiming enough territory to form their own ‘Azawad’ state.
The secularist separatist group formed an unlikely alliance with fighters from Ansar Dine – an Islamist group that wants to impose sharia, or Islamic law in Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu, the three northern regions of Mali that the MNLA says will make up the new Tuareg homeland.
While the MNLA announced a ceasefire, the intentions of Ansar Dine fighters remain unclear.
Juppe warned of a clear distinction between the Tuaregs and the Ansar Dine Islamists, allegedly "infiltrated" by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Juppe called for regional powers in West Africa to fight al Qaeda’s expansion in the area.
“The MNLA has already reached its goal by occupying the north of the country. On the other hand we have al Qaeda, a terrorist movement, and we think that its purpose is to occupy the whole country in order to implement an Islamist regime…that is why we are fighting against this risk and are willing to support ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] in deploying its ground forces to stop terrorist attacks,” Juppe told FRANCE 24 and RFI.

The escalating crisis also worries France, given that AQIM is holding six French hostages in the region.

No French military intervention
ECOWAS is still weighing military options after imposing sanctions on Mali last week.
Paris hopes that a military intervention by West African forces in Mali will restore constitutional order and halt the Tuareg-led rebellion.

"First and foremost we want regional cooperation between Algeria, ECOWAS countries, Nigeria and Mauritania over a strategy to fight terrorism in the Sahel," Juppe said.
France, the former colonial ruler, is Mali's fourth-largest aid donor - and also trains and equips Malian government forces. Since the rebellion, France has suspended its cooperation, but has maintained humanitarian aid.
Alain Juppe ruled out any direct French military involvement in Mali and denied any similarity with its April 2011 role in Cote d’Ivoire to help oust Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbagbo.
“In Ivory Coast, we intervened while an electoral process was underway, after the elected president asked for our assistance, and the UN was also involved…do you really think that deploying French forces in the Sahel would be welcomed by neighbouring countries, starting with Algeria ?” Juppe asked the journalist.

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