Mali: Tuareg rebels accused of atrocities, thousands flee region

French Development Minister Henri de Raincourt, after a visit to Mali, charged that Tuareg guerillas of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) killed nearly 100 residents in their occupation of Aguelhok, one of several northern towns that have come under attack by the rebels. Raincourt said some of the victims had their throats slit, while others were shot in the head. “The execution method was similar to those used by al-Qaeda,” he said, raising the specter of Tuareg collaboration with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Mali’s army also accused the rebels of conducting summary executions and working with AQIM. MNLA spokesman Abdoul Karim ag-Matafa said those killed in Aguelhok were soldiers, not civilians.

Some 50,000 Tuaregs have been displaced from northern Mali in recent weeks, some seeking refuge in Niger and Mauritania. Although officials said those killed at Aguelhok were also Tuaregs, signs mount of a growing ethnic conflict. There have been reports of Tuareg homes and shops being vandalized in Bamako, Mali’s capital. (AllAfrica, Feb. 14; VOA, Feb. 14; DPA, RFI, Feb. 13)

See our last post on the struggle for the Maghreb.