Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Several dozen jihadists, senior commander, ‘killed in Mali’



Several dozen jihadists, senior commander, ‘killed in Mali’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
UN special representative in Mali Mahamat Saleh Annadif (right) and Malian defence minister Ibrahima Dahirou Dembele (left) attend the inauguration of the newheadquartes of the joint force G5 Sahel in Bamako on June 3. AFP

Several dozen jihadists, senior commander, ‘killed in Mali’

More than 40 jihadists, including a senior commander, were killed last week after they attacked UN peacekeepers in northern Mali, the UN force MINUSMA said on April 5.

A UN source previously said about 20 of around 100 assailants were killed in a three-hour counter-attack after they raided a camp of Chadian peacekeepers, leaving four troops dead.

But on April 5, MINUSMA chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif said a search of the battlefield on April 4-5 showed that the death toll among the attackers was roughly twice this number.

Annadif said: “As of today, we have counted more than 40 dead terrorists, including a right-hand man to Iyad Ag Ghaly, by the name of Abdallaye Ag Albaka.”

Ag Ghaly, a veteran jihadist, is leader of the shadowy Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) in the Sahel, affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Ag Albaka, a former mayor of the town of Tessalit, has long had a reputation for being one of Ag Ghaly’s lieutenants, entrusted with a senior military role in northern Mali, the cradle of an insurgency in 2012 that has since spread to Niger and Burkina Faso.

A UN security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Ag Albaka was number three in the GSIM organisation.

The attack targeted a Chadian contingent of MINUSMA at Aguelhok in northern Mali, around 200km from the border with Algeria.

The dawn raid was carried out by a mobile force on motorbikes and in vehicles.

“The peacekeepers have inflicted a serious setback on the terrorists, that’s for sure, even though we are mourning the death of four” peacekeepers, said Annadif, who is also the secretary-general’s special representative for Mali.

Four jihadists were captured on April 2 and handed over to Malian forces, the security source said.

The UN also said 34 of its troops had been injured. The number of wounded was previously put at 19.

MINUSMA, whose deployment to Mali began in 2013, is a 15,000-person mission, of which 12,000 are troops.

It has lost more than 140 members to hostile acts, the highest death toll of any UN peacekeeping mission. Ten fatalities have occurred this year alone.

The force has been criticised in some quarters for failing to respond aggressively to the insurgency.

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