Faced with the deteriorating security situation in northern Mali, the country is providing a judicial response. The prosecutor of the Bamako Court of Appeal announced on Tuesday evening (November 28th) the opening of an investigation targeting local Al-Qaeda leaders, including Iyad Ag Ghaly, and Tuareg separatists for "acts of terrorism, financing of terrorism and illegal possession of weapons of war".

Iyag Ag Ghaly, head of the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM), a jihadist alliance affiliated with Al-Qaeda, is on the list of jihadists named in the prosecutor's statement sent to AFP along with Fulani preacher Amadou Barry alias Amadou Koufa, head of the Katiba Macina.

Other jihadists, including Housseine Ould Ghoulan and Achafagui Ag Bouhada, are also mentioned in the text, which also lists six Tuareg separatist leaders whose movement has taken up arms against the Malian central state despite the signing of a peace agreement with Bamako in 2015 in Algiers. They are Alghabass Ag Intalla, Bilal Ag Acherif, Ibrahim Ould Handa, Fahad Ag Almahmoud, Hanoune Ould Ali and Mohamed Ag Najim, leaders of an alliance of Tuareg-dominated armed groups.

Evidence of "an association with the aim of spreading terror"

"The Chief Prosecutor of the Bamako Court of Appeal (...) instructed the Public Prosecutor of the Specialized Judicial Unit for the Fight against Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime to open an investigation against the terrorist leaders but also other members who signed the 2015 peace agreement and "who have turned to terrorism," the statement said.

The investigation aims to bring the alleged perpetrators and their "accomplices to justice," the statement said.

According to the prosecutor's office, "the exploitation of information" that has reached it reveals "the formation between certain individuals of an association with the aim of sowing terror, undermining national unity, territorial integrity and tarnishing the image" of the Malian army.

It cites "acts of extreme gravity" which "are likely to constitute alleged offences of criminal associations, acts of terrorism, money laundering and financing of terrorism, illegal possession of weapons of war and ammunition and complicity in the same acts". Such "acts", according to him, "are likely to cause civilian and military casualties".

Intensified military confrontations in the north of the country

Since 2012, Mali has been plagued by the activities of groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, violence by self-proclaimed self-defence groups and banditry. The security crisis is coupled with a deep humanitarian and political crisis.

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The colonels who took over the leadership of this country by force in August 2020 broke off historic military cooperation with France in 2022 and turned politically and militarily to Russia.

Northern Mali in particular has been plagued by intensified military confrontations since August. The withdrawal of the UN mission, pushed out by the ruling junta, has triggered a race for control of the territory between the army, jihadists and separatists who have taken up arms against the central state.

With AFP

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