Rising Tensions in Kidal
In a harrowing turn of events, the city of Kidal in Mali recently witnessed a tragic incident. A series of airstrikes, attributed to the Malian army, resulted in the deaths of several civilians, including innocent children. The airstrikes have added fuel to the already escalating tensions in the region, marking a grave turn of events.
A Shocking Tragedy Unfolds
Reports from the Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), an alliance primarily composed of Tuareg armed organizations, indicate that the airstrikes claimed the lives of fourteen people. Among the victims were eight children who had gathered in front of a school, along with six community notables. Surprisingly, the CSP claims that the Malian army used drones made in Turkey to carry out these fatal attacks.
Local residents and witnesses, who mostly preferred to remain anonymous for their safety, offered varying accounts of the tragedy, estimating the death toll at six, seven, or nine individuals. The gravity of the situation is evident, as several survivors required immediate medical attention, underscoring the severity of the airstrikes’ impact.
Malian Authorities Remain Silent
The Malian authorities initially did not provide any official response to the incident, leaving many questions unanswered. It’s worth noting that, just days before the tragic event, the Malian army announced on social media that its air assets had “neutralized” a number of targets within the recently evacuated UN mission (Minusma) camp. The lack of official communication has raised concerns about accountability and transparency in the region.
Tensions Escalate in Kidal
These acts of war on Tuesday marked a grim turning point for Kidal, as they are the first fatalities in the city itself since the Tuareg rebellion reignited hostilities with the state back in August. This tragic event further confirms the longstanding fears of an impending confrontation in Kidal, a city with a rich history of independence movements and a pivotal location on the route to Algeria.
The ongoing power struggle between Bamako and Kidal, which has persisted since 2012, has strained the central government’s sovereignty. Despite efforts to restore territorial control, the city of Kidal remains under the rule of rebels who, after briefly holding power in 2012, declared a ceasefire in 2014. However, recent developments indicate their rearmament and readiness to challenge the central state.
Turbulent History and Ongoing Conflict
Kidal’s complex history is intertwined with the resurgence of radical Islamist groups in the region in 2012. These groups have continuously opposed the central state and any foreign presence, leading Mali into a multifaceted crisis that extends into neighboring countries like Burkina Faso and Niger.
The escalation of tensions and violence in the northern region, which includes confrontations between the regular army, rebel groups, and jihadist forces, has exacerbated the security situation. With the UN mission’s evacuation and the subsequent power vacuum, various actors are competing for control, further complicating the scenario.
A Message to Turkey and Russia
The use of drones in the tragic incident has prompted the CSP to call upon the Turkish government to reconsider its drone sales to the Malian junta. Additionally, they have raised concerns about the alleged involvement of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, which they claim collaborates with the junta. These appeals indicate the international dimension of the ongoing conflict in Mali.
UN Mission’s Withdrawal and Its Consequences
The UN Mission, Minusma, had initially planned to complete its withdrawal from the Kidal area by December 31. Comprising approximately 15,000 troops, the mission has faced significant challenges, with over 180 members losing their lives in acts of hostility. Recent developments, such as the haste in Minusma’s evacuation and the subsequent power shift in Kidal, have added complexities to an already volatile situation.