Harare — Amidst rumors of fighting with Tuareg rebel and separatist organizations, Mali’s army claims to be closing in on the northern town of Kidal. Civilians have started fleeing the city for a few days as a result of growing tension in the area, RFI reports.
As the military authorities of the African country took over in a coup in 2020, they prioritized regaining control over all areas, and Kidal may end up becoming a crucial front in this conflict, according to the report. The conflicts were reported by rebel, political, and military sources. However, information like the number of casualties or the strategies used could not be independently verified in the remote area.
Friday, November 10, saw the rebels in Kidal cut down phone connections in preparation for an armed forces attack after three days of bombings. A coalition of mostly Tuareg-led armed groups known as the Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP – PSD) claimed to have engaged in “vigorous combat” against an army convoy that was aided by mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner paramilitary force.
The convoy that withdrew had suffered “considerable losses,” according to a CSP social media post. On social media, the army claimed to have “broken the defensive line” that the rebels had established near Kidal, but it also pledged to continue its offensive, which “will be carried out successfully.”
The Kidal desert area, a vital location on the way to Algeria and a previous hotspot of insurgency, is home to around 25,000 people. The army declared on Thursday the launch of “strategic movements aimed at securing and eradicating all terrorist threats in the Kidal region”.
A big military convoy has been stationed in Anefis, 110 kilometers to the south, since early October. Tuareg insurgents re-enlisted in August, and the populace has since readied for conflict.