The former Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali on Tuesday accused the army of new air strikes on its positions, in a climate of tension that has raised fears of a resumption of hostilities.
A spokesman for the Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA) told an AFP correspondent that the Malian army had struck CMA positions in Anéfis for the second day running. He reported no damage.
As on the previous day, the Malian army said on social networks that it had carried out airstrikes in the Anéfis sector, but “against columns of vehicles (from) armed terrorist groups” which, it claimed, were preparing attacks against civilians and military posts.
The CMA is an alliance of Tuareg-dominated independence and autonomist groups that rebelled against the Malian state in the north in 2012, along with radical Islamists. The CMA signed a peace agreement with the Malian government in 2015.
The jihadists, meanwhile, continue to fight the state under the banner of al-Qaeda or the Islamic State organization. Mali is plunged into a deep multidimensional crisis.
Tensions have been rising for months between the CMA and the junta that seized power by force in 2020, against a backdrop of rivalry for control of the territory. They have been accentuated by the beginning of the withdrawal of the UN mission deployed in Mali since 2013 and pushed out by the Malian authorities.
Armed groups are opposed to the UN camps being transferred to the Malian army. The handover of the Ber UN camp to the state in mid-August led to clashes between the army and the CMA. The UN mission is due to leave other camps by December 31.
On Monday, the military-dominated government called on the armed groups that signed the 2015 agreement to resume dialogue. At the same time, however, the armed groups accused the Malian air force of dropping a few bombs on their positions in Anéfis without causing any damage.
The Malian army claimed on social networks to have “targeted a grouping of armed terrorist groups” and to have “neutralized” several fighters.
In a statement received on Monday evening after the government’s call for dialogue, the CMA said it considered that the junta “had definitively and deliberately opted for an escalation towards open hostilities with necessarily disastrous consequences”.