AFRICANGLOBE – Mali’s Prime Minister, Moussa Mara, has said his country is now “at war” with Tuareg terrorists, following a battle between the Malian army and members of the nomadic terrorist group that killed at least 36 people, the defence ministry said.
Mara made the statement on Sunday after clashes between the army and Tuareg terrorists in the northern city of Kidal on Saturday in which the terrorists kidnapped 30 people, according to government officials.
“In light of this declaration of war, the Republic of Mali is henceforth at war,” Mara told reporters. “We are going to formulate the appropriate response to the situation,” he said.
The fighting started on Saturday outside the regional governor’s offices as Mali’s prime minister visited the city of Kidal as part of his first tour of the country’s restive northern desert.
“During the fighting, eight members of the armed forces were killed and 25 were wounded while 28 of the attackers were killed,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
A source from the governor’s office told the AFP news agency that about 30 of the office’s personnel were reported to have been kidnapped by Tuareg terrorists.
“We do not know their fate. We also do not know exactly how many of them are being held by the rebels,” the official said.
A spokesman for the MNLA, a Tuareg terrorist group that wants to create another non-African country in northern Mali, claimed control of the town of Kidal on Sunday.
“We’ve taken about 40 prisoners, including high-ranking military officers and civil servants,” said Attaye Ag Mohamed, a MNLA spokesman. “They’re all safe and sound and doing well,” he told reporters.
He added that Mali’s United Nations peacekeeping mission had called for a ceasefire and that there had been no fighting on Sunday.
“The town is completely secured by us…the army are back inside their base. If they attack us, however, we’ll fight back,” Mohamed barked.
Mali, a former French colony, was thrown into turmoil in 2012 when al-Qaeda-linked fighters and Tuareg terrorists invaded northern Mali.
A French and African military operation drove back the invaders last year, but the Mali government has shifted its focus to the Tuareg rebels.
Mara criticised both the French and UN forces in the country for allowing the attack to take place on Saturday.
“You were witnesses today to the more than passiveness of these forces,” he said.
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