North Mali: at least one dead in protests targeting French forces
As reported by local officials, witnesses and the U.N. mission in Mali, MINUSMA, demonstrators damaged airport facilities in Northern Mali on Monday in order to protest against arrests made by French forces based on the suspicion of the existence of links with Islamist militants settled in the area.
In the town of Kidal, warning shots and teargas were used by security forces to dissuade and disperse protesters, mainly women.
This protest seems to be the sign of deteriorated relationships between foreign forces and this local community, a place deemed as being the epicentre of a separatist movement and violence led by Islamist militants, some of whom being close to al-Qaeda.
According to an official representative of the Kidal community, one person died and six others were injured during said unrest. Nevertheless, the U.N. mission has not given any confirmation. The reasons explaining this disorder and the high number of women remain unclear. For his part, the French military spokesman has refused to make any comments.
MINUSMA and French forces have been operating in northern Mali for about three years when separatists allied with jihadists so as to seize the region from the government in Bamako.
Although jihadists were kicked out from main towns in 2013 by French forces, they have come back. In November, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack launched against a luxury hotel in the capital city which cost the lives of 20 people.
MINUSMA was targeted by protests once before in January 2015.
(With Reuters Africa)