West and Central Africa Correspondent
David's Feed
Jan 24, 2013

Mali Islamists suffer split as Africans prepare assault

MARKALA, Mali/DAKAR (Reuters) – A split emerged on Thursday in the alliance of Islamist militant groups occupying northern Mali as French and African troops prepared a major ground offensive aimed at driving al Qaeda and its allies from their safe haven in the Sahara.

A senior negotiator from the Ansar Dine rebels who helped seize the north from Mali’s government last year said he was now part of a faction that wanted talks and rejected the group’s alliance with al Qaeda’s North African franchise AQIM.

Jan 24, 2013

Mali Islamist group splits, faction leader wants talks

DAKAR (Reuters) – A faction of one of the armed Islamist groups occupying the north of the Mali has split off from its al Qaeda allies and says it is willing to hold talks with the government, the leader of the new group said on Thursday.

Alghabass Ag Intallah, a senior member of the Tuareg-led Ansar Dine group which helped seize northern Mali last year from government forces, said he had created a new organization, the Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA), and was ready to seek a negotiated solution to Mali’s conflict.

Jan 18, 2013

After Algerian incident, West Africa fears Mali spill over

DAKAR (Reuters) – By seizing hundreds of hostages at a gas plant in the Algerian desert, al Qaeda-linked militants angry at French intervention in Mali sent a clear message: they could strike anywhere in the Sahara.

Many experts now believe the sight of a former colonial power leading unprepared West African armies into war against Islamists in Mali could spark similar attacks across a swathe of smaller, more vulnerable nations to the south.

Jan 18, 2013

Analysis: After Algerian incident, West Africa fears Mali spillover

DAKAR (Reuters) – By seizing hundreds of hostages at a gas plant in the Algerian desert, al Qaeda-linked militants angry at French intervention in Mali sent a clear message: they could strike anywhere in the Sahara.

Many experts now believe the sight of a former colonial power leading unprepared West African armies into war against Islamists in Mali could spark similar attacks across a swathe of smaller, more vulnerable nations to the south.

Jan 15, 2013

Analysis: Mali’s Islamist groups united by war threat

DAKAR (Reuters) – A powerful southern offensive by Islamists in Mali last week, halted only by French air strikes, showed that a loose alliance of rebels from al Qaeda’s North African wing and local groups has been united by the threat of foreign intervention.

When the coalition of Islamists swept across northern Mali last year, massacring army troops and carving up the vast desert zone, ties between Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and local groups Ansar Dine and MUJWA had looked opportunistic, and regional mediators believed they could prize them apart.

Nov 21, 2012

U.N. defends failed attempt to halt capture of Congo’s Goma

KINSHASA/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United Nations defended its failed effort to prevent rebels from seizing the Congolese city of Goma, saying on Wednesday its helicopters had fired hundreds of rockets at rebels but were unable to beat them back as their ranks swelled.

Advancing M23 rebels seized the North Kivu capital on Tuesday after Democratic Republic of Congo soldiers fled.

Nov 16, 2012

Mali war against Islamists unlikely before mid-2013

DAKAR/PARIS (Reuters) – Any foreign-backed offensive to retake control of northern Mali from al Qaeda-linked Islamists will take at least six months to prepare, plans seen by Reuters show, a delay that runs counter to the expectations of many Malians.

The timing allows space for talks aimed at fragmenting the Islamist militias and stabilising a shaky Bamako government, but it risks giving Islamist hardliners an opportunity to dig in.

Nov 16, 2012

Exclusive: Mali war against Islamists unlikely before mid-2013

DAKAR/PARIS (Reuters) – Any foreign-backed offensive to retake control of northern Mali from al Qaeda-linked Islamists will take at least six months to prepare, plans seen by Reuters show, a delay that runs counter to the expectations of many Malians.

The timing allows space for talks aimed at fragmenting the Islamist militias and stabilizing a shaky Bamako government, but it risks giving Islamist hardliners an opportunity to dig in.

Oct 25, 2012

In the land of ‘gangster-jihadists’

TIMBUKTU, Mali (Reuters) – A military helicopter arced through the dusty yellow haze and dropped onto the sand a few kilometres from Timbuktu on April 24, settling inside a ring of Islamists armed with AK47s and anti-aircraft guns.

A general from neighbouring Burkina Faso and a Swiss government aid worker emerged and joined an Islamist leader sheltering in a tent; they exchanged pleasantries over roast goat and cans of fruit juice. About an hour later, after the Swiss official and Islamist leader had spent five minutes alone in the helicopter, a pick-up truck arrived carrying Beatrice Stockly, a Swiss missionary who had been kidnapped nine days earlier.

Oct 25, 2012

Special Report: In the land of “gangster-jihadists”

TIMBUKTU, Mali (Reuters) – A military helicopter arced through the dusty yellow haze and dropped onto the sand a few kilometers from Timbuktu on April 24, settling inside a ring of Islamists armed with AK47s and anti-aircraft guns.

A general from neighboring Burkina Faso and a Swiss government aid worker emerged and joined an Islamist leader sheltering in a tent; they exchanged pleasantries over roast goat and cans of fruit juice. About an hour later, after the Swiss official and Islamist leader had spent five minutes alone in the helicopter, a pick-up truck arrived carrying Beatrice Stockly, a Swiss missionary who had been kidnapped nine days earlier.