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MINUSMA Pull Out From Northern Mali Enters New Phase Amid Intensifying Fighting

The UN peacekeeping mission due to leave Mali by december 31, is conducting a sensitive pull out.

The Minusma completed its “accelerated withdrawal” from Tessalit on October 22nd, then from Aguelhoc the next day.

Analyst Ali Tounkara, explains  that armed actors fight for control of evacuated Minusma camps.

“The speed with which the UN mission’s compound in Aguelhoc was ransacked by armed men shows just how strategic this locality remains for the signatory movements of the peace and reconciliation agreement, as well as for violent radical groups,” the Executive Director of Center for Security and Strategic Studies in the Sahel said.

Some of the signatories of the 2015 Algiers accords have taken arms again against Mali’s central government, ramping up attacks against the army just like Al-Qaida affiliated groups.

Minusma seeks to avoid being caught in the crossfire but it has also suffered attacks. According to the mission, some of its convoys were attacked with explosive devices, resulting in injuries. Terrorist group GSIM claimed responsibility.

A truck driver was seriously wounded and two others slightly injured on Thursday (Oct. 26) when gunmen opened fire on a logistics convoy from Ansongo, another camp to be evacuated, the mission reported.

“As far as the State of Mali is concerned, there is no ambiguity today between the movements that signed the agreement (Tuareg rebels) and the armed terrorist groups, which are evolving together. As a result, the various communiqués issued by the State of Mali make no attempt to distinguish between the armed movements (signatories to the peace agreement) and the terrorist groups,” Dr. Tounkara explained.

Mali’s government has accused the Minusma of “leaving free hand” to terrorists as the mission expediates its withdrawal.

The Minusma has had to cope with what it called restrictions imposed by the authorities on its ability to manoeuvre.

Minusma said it had been forced to destroy or decommission equipment such as vehicles, ammunition and generators, in accordance with UN rules, because it was unable to take them with it. “Such losses could have been avoided” if 200 trucks had not been blocked in Gao since 24 September by restrictions on movement imposed by the authorities, she said.