Posts Tagged ‘Mali’

Three French soldiers die of wounds after Mali bomb blast

April 13, 2016

AFP

© Kenzo Troubillard / AFP | French soldiers on patrol in northern Mali in 2013.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2016-04-13

Two French soldiers have died in Mali after their heavy armoured vehicle hit a land mine, taking the number of people killed in the incident to three, French President Francois Hollande’s office said on Wednesday.

One soldier was announced dead on Tuesday after the vehicle struck an explosive device during a patrol in the restive north of the country.

The latest deaths take the French army casualty toll to 17 since Paris intervened in its former colonyin January 2013 to oust Islamist militants.

It underlines persistent insecurity in the region a month after al Qaeda’s African arm claimed responsibility for an attack on a luxury beach hotel in Ivory Coast in retaliation for French military operations in West Africa.

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AFP

© AFP/File | Mali’s vast, desolate north continues to be beset by violence, having fallen under the control of Tuareg-led rebels and jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012

PARIS (FRANCE) (AFP) – Three French peacekeeping soldiers died after their armoured car ran over a landmine in Mali, the French presidency said Wednesday.

One soldier was killed immediately in the blast on Tuesday and President Francois Hollande learned “with great sadness” that two more soldiers had died in the west African country, a statement said.

Mali hotel attack: Gunmen ‘storm EU military training base in Bamako’

March 21, 2016

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Gunmen attack a hotel which was converted into a European Union military training base. One attacker was killed, witnesses say

Breaking news

Four gunmen attacked a hotel hosting an EU military training mission in Mali’s capital on Monday, with one shot by security guards, according to a source within the mission.

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“Four people tried to force their way through the barricade firing shots,” the source told AFP. “One of the four was neutralised, we are searching for the three others,” the source added, without specifying if the wounded attacker had died.

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A witness told Reuters that the attack targeted Bamako’s Nord-Sud Hotel, which serves as headquarters for the mission of nearly 600 EU military personnel deployed to Mali to train its security forces.

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There were no casualties among staff in an attack, the mission said: “No EUTM-Mali personnel has been hurt,” the EU mission said on Twitter, adding it was now securing the area.

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A Malian defence ministry spokesman confirmed that shots had been fired at the hotel. “The security forces arrived on the scene a half hour ago. I don’t have more information than that for the moment,” Colonel Diarran Kone told Reuters.

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Dozens of people were killed in an attack in November on Bamako’s Radisson Blu hotel claimed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The group also targeted a beach resort town in Ivory Coast earlier this month, killing 19 people.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/mali/12200559/Mali-attack-Gunmen-storm-EU-military-training-base-in-Bamako.html

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Mali attack: Gunmen open fire on EU military training base in Bamako

At least one attacker was killed as they attempted to force their way in, one witness says

Gunmen have opened fire on a hotel being used as a base for an EU military training base in Mali’s capital, Bamako.

A witness said the attackers tried to force their way through the entrance of the Nord-Sud hotel when the guards posted at the front opened fire.

They said: “The attackers tried to force through the entry and the guards posed in front of the entrance opened fire.

“One attacker was killed. The gunfire continued for several minutes”.

A Defence Ministry spokesman confirmed that shots had been fired at the hotel.

Colonel Diarran Kone said: “The security forces arrived on the scene a half hour ago. I don’t have more information than that for the moment”.

No EU personnel were hurt in the attack.

The attack comes just months a siege at the city’s Radisson Blu hotel.

If the attack was carried out by Islamist gunmen it will be the latest in a string of  terror attacks across the region.

Mali is currently fighting an insurgency by Islamist militants in the north of the country with the help of French security forces.

Last week, the terror group al-Qaeda in the Magreb claimed responsibility for an attack on a beachfront resort in Ivory Coast which left 19 people dead.

Additional reporting by Reuters

U.S. Military Commander in Africa Sees al Qaeda Getting Stronger, Bolder

February 13, 2016

World | Sat Feb 13, 2016 9:14am EST

Reuters

Two high-profile strikes in West Africa since November by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) could further strengthen the Islamist militant group, a U.S. commander for North and West Africa said.

AQIM, a militant group that emerged from the Algerian civil war in the 1990s and is now mostly north Mali-based, is emerging from a period of near dormancy marked by factional infighting.

The group, linked to veteran jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, claimed two hotel sieges in the Mali and Burkina Faso capitals in November and January that killed dozens, including many Westerners, proving its ability to strike further south.

Some experts say the urban attacks, and a slew of recent propaganda, may be a bid to compete with ultra-hardline group Islamic State, which now has a base in Libya.

“(The hotel attacks) raised the profile of the group and will help the group do a (few) things,” said Colonel Bob Wilson, Third Special Forces Group Commander, in an interview with Reuters and The New York Times in Dakar this week.

“One, show that it’s still relevant. Two, help it to recruit personnel and commit resources. And three, create the impetus to do more attacks like that,” he said on a visit to Senegal during the annual U.S.-led ‘Flintlock’ counter-terror training program in the Sahel region.

The United States has its own Africa Command with between 1,000-1,200 forces on the continent at any given time, mostly in training and support roles. Wilson’s North and West Africa command is the largest of three regional groups, with around 500 deployed across a dozen countries.

U.S. officials say this year’s event is marked by a growing threat of Islamic State (ISIS) in Libya, Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin and AQIM in the Sahel which, while deeply concerning, is also boosting African security cooperation.

Wilson said he expects ISIS to spread beyond Libya to other African countries in the next year, echoing fears expressed by Niger and Chad to the south.

The Islamic State has thousands of fighters in the former Italian colony and controls parts of Libya’s northern coastal strip, including the city of Sirte.

“I think it (ISIS) is going to expand beyond Libya where it can find subordinate elements to cooperate with,” he said, adding that he was worried about “increased collusion and cooperation” between militant groups.

He declined to comment on plans for special operations in Libya amid speculation of possible Western air strikes.

Wilson welcomed the creation of a regional task force last year to fight Nigeria’s Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to ISIS and is blamed for 15,000 deaths.

But he said the countries involved — Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin — have yet to prove that they can work effectively together in joint operations and that a regional headquarters is still “nascent”.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

U.S. intelligence chief warns of increased ISIS attacks around the world as jihadis target global expansion

February 9, 2016

ISIS is likely to step up ‘the pace and lethality’ of its attacks in the months ahead as it seeks to intensify its global campaign of violence, warned the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency director.

Marine Corps Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart emphasised the dangers of the jihadi group’s ’emerging branches’ in Mali, Tunisia, Somalia, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

He also said he would not be surprised if ISIS extended its operations from the Sinai Peninsula in order to strike the heart of Egypt.

Marine Corps Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart (pictured) emphasised the dangers of the jihadi group's 'emerging branches' in Mali, Tunisia, Somalia, Bangladesh and Indonesia

Marine Corps Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart (pictured) emphasised the dangers of the jihadi group’s ’emerging branches’ in Mali, Tunisia, Somalia, Bangladesh and Indonesia

JIhadis in Libya train in the province of Tripoli as ISIS continues to expand in the war-torn country

JIhadis in Libya train in the province of Tripoli as ISIS continues to expand in the war-torn country

Stewart said that ISIS’s presence in Iraq and Syria was only the start, with the group seemingly looking to expand as part of its global plan.

‘Last year, Daesh (ISIS) remained entrenched on Iraqi and Syrian battlefields and expanded globally to Libya, Sinai, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Caucasus,’ Stewart said.

‘Daesh is likely to increase the pace and lethality of its transnational attacks because it seeks to unleash violent actions and to provoke a harsh reaction from the West, thereby feeding its distorted narrative’ of a Western war against Islam, he said.

Stewart’s comments came a day before he and other U.S. intelligence officials are set to deliver an annual worldwide threat assessment to Congress.

He also said he would not be surprised if ISIS extended its operations from the Sinai Peninsula in order to strike the heart of Egypt

He also said he would not be surprised if ISIS extended its operations from the Sinai Peninsula in order to strike the heart of Egypt

ISIS militants in Egypt released photos of a secret new training camp in the desert of Sinai

ISIS militants in Egypt released photos of a secret new training camp in the desert of Sinai

The Sunni Muslim militant group seeks not only to escalate conflict with the West, but also with Islam’s minority Shiite branch, just as Shiite extremist groups like Lebanon’s Hezbollah are stoking tensions with Sunnis, Stewart said.

‘These threats are exacerbated by the security challenges of the Middle East, which is now facing one of the most dangerous and unpredictable periods in the last decade,’ he said.

ISIS has as many as 25,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq, down from a previous estimate of up to 31,000, according to a U.S. intelligence report revealed by the White House last week.

U.S. officials cited factors such as battlefield casualties and desertions to explain the roughly 20 percent decrease in fighters, and said the report showed a U.S.-led campaign to crush Islamic State was making progress.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3438421/U-S-intelligence-chief-warns-increased-ISIS-attacks-world-jihadis-target-global-expansion.html#ixzz3zh3YzhyS
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Jihadists attack Timbuktu a day after mausoleum ceremony — Mali remain lawless

February 5, 2016

AFP

Sane Chirfi, representing the family which looks after the mausoleum of Alpha Moya, poses in front of the mausoleum on February 4, 2016 Timbuktu. AFP

BAMAKO (AFP) – At least four suspected jihadists and a Malian soldier were killed Friday following an attack on a UN military camp in Timbuktu in Mali’s restive north, a Malian security source said.The assault came just a day after the fabled city celebrated the restoration of its greatest treasures — earthen mausoleums dating to mediaeval times that were destroyed during an Islamist takeover in 2012.

Hours of fighting followed the early-morning attack on the camp in the south of Timbuktu, the source said, adding that the offensive against the attackers ended in the afternoon.

“At least four terrorists were killed, including those who blew themselves up in their vehicle, (and) three Malian soldiers were wounded and one killed,” the source said.

“A Malian officer who was taking part in the hunt for the terrorists was unfortunately killed” when a wall collapsed on his armoured vehicle, the source said.

An officer taking part in a search-and sweep operation said the mission “to destroy the terrorists” had wrapped up in the southern sector of Timbuktu, around a former hotel called La Palmeraie where the UN peacekeeping mission had a base.

The raid was essentially a double attack with the assailants first blowing up their vehicle at a military roadblock near the camp and a second vehicle then coming in with others who started firing.

It was a “carefully prepared” plan targeting the Nigerian contingent of MINUSMA, the UN’s peacekeeping mission, the source said.

A Nigerian peacekeeper was slightly wounded along with a civilian.

The army had reports that a vehicle being used by the suspected Islamists had “infiltrated the town of Timbuktu itself,” another military source added.

Another Malian source said the camp had recently been evacuated by police officers from Nigeria but some soldiers had remained there.

A local resident said the assailants seemed to have “really prepared their plan”.

“I believe that they first blew up their car so that MINUSMA forces would come out to inspect the damage, in order to attack them again,” he told AFP.

A Malian soldier was killed last month in an ambush on the outskirts of Timbuktu in continuing violence in the sprawling arid north of the country.

– Shrine ceremony –

Northern Mali fell under the control of Tuareg-led rebels and jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012.

The Islamists sidelined the Tuareg to take sole control but were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013.

But Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents wrecked 14 of Timbuktu’s earthen shrines built during its 15th and 16th century golden age as an economic, intellectual and spiritual centre.

They considered the shrines, as well as priceless ancient manuscripts, to be idolatrous.

They also implemented a hardline version of Islamic law, forcing women to wear veils and setting whipping and stoning as punishment for transgressions.

Friday’s attack followed a ceremony on Thursday to consecrate shrines that had been restored with the help of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The commemoration had been hailed as a sign of the desert city’s revival.

UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova, who visited Timbuktu in July last year, warned in a message that “the dangers were far from over.”

But seeing the buildings restored proved that “unity is possible and peace is strong,” she said.

Large swathes of Mali remain lawless, despite a June peace deal between the former Tuareg rebels and rival pro-government armed groups.

Jihadist threat grows across west Africa

January 26, 2016

By Malick Rokhy with AFP correspondents in West Africa

A Senegalese police officer stands guard and inspects vehicles at the entrance of an hotel on January 22, 2016 in Dakar

Dakar (AFP) – Faced with a growing jihadist threat, West African nations are scrambling to boost security but are seeing visitor numbers fall as foreign governments warn their nationals about the risks.

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“The alert is being taken very seriously,” said a Senegalese security source after police carried out a weekend of security operations in a bid to tackle the “terrorist threat”.

Some 900 people were detained, mainly for security checks.

The situation is being taken particularly seriously in Dakar’s Corniche district, which is home to many hotels, he said.

Hotel security has been stepped up after 30 people were killed earlier this month in a deadly attack on a top Burkina Faso hotel and a nearby restaurant in the capital Ouagadougou.

Senegal is “an island of stability in an ocean of instability,” said Bakary Sambe, researcher on religious radicalism at Gaston Berger University, referring to the unrest gripping Mali to the east and Nigeria further south where the Boko Haram jihadists are active.

“It is increasingly a strategic retreat area for western organisations” and occupies a “privileged position” in the region, he said.

That, however, is now making it an attractive target for destructive forces, “a symbolic target, because in attacking Senegal, you hit many interests,” he said.

Mohamed Fall Oumere, security expert and director of the Mauritanian newspaper La Tribune, said he expects Islamist attacks to extend westwards to countries such as Senegal, Ivory Coast and Mauritania which have hitherto been largely spared “because of the security noose” around the area.

– ‘Allies of the Crusaders’ –

The jihadists want to send three messages, Oumere says.

One is to France, telling them that their 2013 intervention in Mali “remains unresolved” while another is to France’s allies to warn them that “they are still in the firing line,” he said.

The third is a message to the Islamic State group, a competing Islamist faction, “which will unfortunately result in much damage and bloodshed,” he said.

Northern Mali fell under the control of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012 but they were largely ousted by a French-led military operation launched in January 2013 although large swathes of the area remain lawless and prone to attacks.

In an interview with Mauritania’s Al-Akhbar website, a leader of the Al-Qaeda Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) group threatened allies of the Western “crusaders” in reference to Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Senegal and Togo whose troops make up most of the UN forces housed at US and French military bases in Mali.

“We say to all those countries in the region which are allied to France and which participate in this Crusader war against Umma (the Islamic community) that we will spare no effort to strike them, and the Western interests they house,” Yahya Abu el-Hammam said.

Speaking to AFP, French security expert Yves Trotignon, who knows the region well, said Niger seems very vulnerable and that mounting an attack on the capital Niamey “wouldn’t be very difficult”.

– ‘Avoid crowded areas’ –

Last week, Nigeria’s Interior Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou spoke for the first time of arrests over the past month of people who came to Niamey intending to carry out the kind of attacks seen in Ouagadougou.

“We receive information and threats around every two months,” he told the French broadcaster RFI.

In Dakar and Abidjan, the US and French envoys have urged their nationals to “avoid crowded areas” as they did after the November 20 attacks on a hotel in the Malian capital Bamako, which killed 20, 14 of them foreigners.

Even in Sierra Leone, where the Ebola virus has hit the tourist sector and where the authorities lend little credibility to threats of attacks against their hotels, security is being beefed up around major buildings, according to the US embassy.

Last week Idriss Deby Itno, president of Chad — a key member of France’s counter-terrorism mission in the Sahel region — said terrorism had become a worse threat than Ebola, which has killed over 11,000 people.

During a recently solidarity visit to Burkina Faso, he described terror as “an epidemic, worse than Ebola, worse than any illness.”

The Chadian leader said it imposed an additional burden on poorer countries which already had enough problems to deal with.

“With the meagre means available to us in this region, you cannot combat terrorism while also thinking about development, about youth employment, about creating jobs,” he said.

“It’s impossible.”

Burkina Faso attacks: Four Al-Qaeda terrorists – ‘including two women’ – killed after special forces free 126 hostages in hotel siege

January 16, 2016

23 dead after second day of terror attacks in Ouagadougou. Survivors describe how they “played dead” to avoid being shot

 

Attackers yelled “Allahu Akhbar” before starting to execute people at point-blank range.

At least 20 killed in attack on Splendid Hotel in capital Ouagadougou
• Siege declared over after four terrorists killed
• What we know about Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
• Survivor: ‘We had to play dead to survive’

 

At least 25 people, including 18 Westerners, were killed when four turban-wearing attackers from al-Qaeda’s West African affiliate launched a bloody assault on a hotel and a café in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso overnight on Friday.

Survivors who escaped from the city centre Hotel Splendid and the nearby Café Cappuccino told how the assailants struck just after 8.30pm as crowds were building on Friday evening, firing into the air and crying “Allahu Akhbar” before starting to execute people at point-blank range.

In the Cappuccino café, diners described pretending to be dead for almost an hour as the terrorists picked over them, killing anyone still alive before setting it alight and shooting at those who tried to escape the acrid smoke.

“We had to play dead,” said one dazed and tear-streaked local woman interviewed at a nearby hospital, “They shook people by the foot to see if they were alive or not and if they were alive, they shot them.”

Foreign witnesses said the attackers – which according to some accounts included two women terrorists – had deliberately singled out westerners for execution as they calmly went about their killing spree at the Cappuccino.

“They kept coming back. You’d think it was over, then they’d come back and shoot more people. They would come back and see if the white people were moving and then they would shoot them again,” a Slovenian social anthropologist told Reuters.

In addition to the four jihadists, at least 25 people were killed in the attack at the Splendid Hotel and a nearby cafe in Ouagadougou, the capital, the president said.

A general view of damaged vehicles from two car bombs outside the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

A general view of damaged vehicles from two car bombs outside the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso  Photo: EPA/WOUTER ELSEN

“My friend had a white dead person on top of her, bleeding onto her. But his body saved her,” said the woman, who asked that her name not be used.

After crossing the road to the four-star Splendid Hotel, which is popular with Western aid workers and French soldiers stationed locally, they then sprayed more bullets into the building before also torching the building and nearby parked cars.

A shoe shine boy who worked at the hotel entrance and a street hawker who had been selling cigarettes were later found among the dead.

One man described the militants as appearing to be little more than “children” who struggled under the weight of their heavy assault rifles.

Burkina Faso’s president suggested two of the attackers were women, though France, which has a military base and thousands of nationals living in its former colony, contradicted the claim.

The attacks were condemned around the world, coming just weeks after a near-identical attack in the capital of neighbouring Mali in November where 22 people were killed after Islamist gunmen opened fire on the Radisson Blu hotel.

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Undated grab from a video obtained by ANI Mauritanian news agency reportedly shows former Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) emir Mokhtar Belmokhtar speaking at an undisclosed location

Belmokhtar, known as the One-Eyed Sheikh of the Sahara, is an Algerian and experienced jihadist who fought in Algeria’s civil war. He has led a variety of attacks across the Sahara but is best-known for capturing the In Amenas gas plant in southern Algeria.

His men held hundreds of local and foreign hostages for several days, 38 of whom were killed when the plant was retaken, including six Britons. He is also thought to have been responsible for a series of suicide attacks in Niger in May 2013 which targeted a military barracks and uranium mine.

Some African terror groups have responded to overtures from the Islamic State in the Levant (Isil) but Belmokhtar is understood to remain loyal to al-Qaeda’s Ayman Al Zawahiri and has rejected an suggestion of an affiliation with Isil.

The attack on the Splendid hotel follows an attack by Al Murabitoon on the Radisson Blue hotel in Bamako, over the border in Mali, in November. A total of 22 people were killed in that attack, which saw more than 100 taken hostage. In August, Al Murabitoon also attacked a hotel in the central Malian town of Sevare, killing 12 people.

Belmokhtar was originally an AQIM commander before splitting with the group. According to a blog on the Long War Journal site, the hotel attacks and the messages in which responsibility was claimed for them reflect a reintegration of Al Murabitoon into AQIM’s ranks, with a message released in December confirming the absorption of Al Murabitoon into its ranks, and identifying the Bamako attack was the first joint assault carried out by the two.

Read the rest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/burkinafaso/12103065/Burkina-Faso-attacks-Al-Qaeda-Islamic-Maghreb-Hotel-Splendid-Ouagadougou-live.html

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Burkina Faso: Mokhtar Belmokhtar, ‘The Uncatchable’ desert jihadist, apparently planned latest violence

January 16, 2016

AFP

Undated grab from a video obtained by ANI Mauritanian news agency reportedly shows former Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) emir Mokhtar Belmokhtar speaking at an undisclosed location

BAMAKO (AFP) – Wily one-eyed Mokhtar Belmokhtar, whose jihadists have claimed the attack on a hotel in Burkina Faso, shot to global notoriety with a spectacular assault on an Algerian gas field in 2013, but had long been known as “The Uncatchable”.Washington has offered a $5 million (4.7 million euros) bounty for the 43-year-old, born and bred in the Algerian desert, and of all the jihadist leaders in the Sahel region straddling the southern Sahara, it is Belmokhtar who is most wanted.

He was behind the 2013 attack on the In Amenas natural gas complex in the remote south of his homeland, in which 39 hostages and 29 Islamists were killed.

And his Al-Murabitoun group, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, also claimed responsibility for the jihadist siege at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako that left 20 dead in November, including 14 foreigners.

In May last year, he reaffirmed that Al-Murabitoun remained loyal to Al-Qaeda, denying the claim of allegiance to the Islamic State group made by another of the movement’s leaders.

He was born in 1972 in the ancient desert city of Ghardaia, 600 kilometres (370 miles) south of the Algerian capital.

In a rare 2007 interview, he said he was drawn away from home by his fascination with the exploits of the mujahedeen fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, joining them in 1991 when he was barely 19 years old.

– Smuggling baron –

It was in Afghanistan that he claims to have lost his eye to shrapnel and where he had his first contact with Al-Qaeda, whose ranks he joined, eventually rising to a senior position.

He returned to Algeria in 1993, a year after the government sparked civil war by cancelling an election the Islamic Salvation Front was poised to win.

He joined the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), which conducted a violent campaign of civilian massacres in its battle against the government, sometimes wiping out entire villages.

Belmokhtar thrived thanks to his intimate knowledge of the nearly lawless “Grey Zone” of southern Algeria, northern Mali and neighbouring Niger.

In 1998, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) broke away from the GIA. Belmokhtar, now also nicknamed “The Uncatchable” by a former chief of French intelligence, went with them.

Nine years later, the GSPC formally adopted to the jihadist ideology of Osama bin Laden and renamed itself Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

These Islamists have spun a tight network across tribal and business lines that stretch across the sub-Sahara Sahel zone, supporting poor communities and protecting all kinds of traffickers.

They are comfortable operating in the harsh desert terrain and have made millions of dollars from the ransoms of European hostages.

With a reputation as a smuggling baron — dealing in contraband cigarettes, stolen cars and even drugs, as well as profiting from illegal immigration networks — Belmokhtar’s commitment to AQIM’s puritanical brand of Islam was questioned by some members of the group.

But in January 2013, a group calling itself the “Signatories in Blood”, led by Belmokhtar, claimed responsibility for the Algerian gas field assault.

It took place a few days after France launched a military operation to help Malian troops in the north stem a jihadist invasion.

Then in May 2013, two months after reportedly being killed by Chadian troops in Mali, Belmokhtar claimed deadly attacks against Niger’s army in Agadez and against French firm Areva, which mines uranium in Niger.

Burkina Faso Attack By al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) branch Al-Mourabitoun — Took responsibility using encrypted messaging app

January 16, 2016

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  • 23 people have died in the attack on the Splendid Hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, West Africa
  • Security forces stormed the hotel and have reportedly freed 126 hostages and killed three of the gunmen
  • Russia’s Honorary Council in Burkina Faso said foreigners are among the dead, ‘possibly including Europeans’   
  • Local al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) branch Al-Mourabitoun have claimed responsibility for the attack 
  • One the several of people wounded in the attack has been identified as French photographer Leila Alaoui
  • Fourth gunman killed at  the Yibi Hotel following a lengthy siege in the Burkinabe capital this morning

Security forces have managed to rescue 126 of the hostages trapped inside a luxury hotel in Burkina Faso after it was attacked by gunmen last night.

As many as 23 people have been killed in the terror attacks in Ouagadougou, with 33 of the survivors wounded during the rescue, the Burkinabe Interior Ministry confirmed. Many of the victims are thought to be foreign nationals from up to 18 different countries.

A unit of Burkinabe special forces assisted by around 30 French special forces and an American soldier stormed the 147-bed hotel in Ouagadougou and reportedly killed three of the gunmen, one of whom is thought to be of Arab origin.

At least ten of the victims in the terror attack were gunned down at the Cappuccino Cafe, situated next door to the hotel. The attack has been claimed by al-Mourabitoun, an al-Qaeda affiliated group based in the Sahel region of northern Mali.

The Burkinabe President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré confirmed that a fourth gunman at the Yibi Hotel has been killed and that two of the four attackers are thought to have been women.

Scroll down for video:

French first responders tend to the wounds of one injured soldiers during the attack on the Splendid Hotel and Cafe Cappucino

French first responders tend to the wounds of one injured soldiers during the attack on the Splendid Hotel and Cafe Cappucino

A view shows vehicles on fire outside Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso during a siege by Islamist gunmen on Saturday

A view shows vehicles on fire outside Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso during a siege by Islamist gunmen on Saturday

Security forces - led by the approximately 40 Burkinabe soldiers with the help of 30 French troops (pictured) and an American soldier helped storm the hotel and kill the three gunmen

One of the wounded foreigners is thought to be a French national, named as Leila Alaoui

Leila Alaoui is receiving treatment for her injuries

Initial reports said the masked militants set off suspected car bombs outside the hotel at 7.30pm last night before they stormed the hotel taking at least 100 people hostage.

A US defense official said France, the former colonial power of Burkina Faso, had requested US intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance support in the city, and at least one US military member was giving ‘advice and assistance’ to French forces at the hotel.

Injured witnesses said the attackers claimed to be from ISIS, but a local Al Qaeda affiliated group called al-Mourabitoun, has reportedly claimed the attack on the capital in West Africa, according to SITE Intelligence Group.

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Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a statement released on an encrypted messaging app.

The group said it targeted the Splendid Hotel because it is popular with foreigners, saying the attack was sent as a message ‘written by the heroes of Islam with their blood and body parts’, according to The New York Times.

The statement was addressed to a foreign audience as ‘the Cross-worshipers, the occupiers of our lands, the looters of our wealth and the abusers of our security’. It claimed the attack was intended ‘to punish the Cross-worshipers for their crimes against our people in Central Africa, Mali and other lands of the Muslims, and to avenge our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings be upon him’.

Of those wounded is French national Leila Alaoui, who is undergoing surgery, according to New York Times contributor Aida Alami.

French television network France 24 reported that at least 20 people have been killed in the attack. Two survivors, who did not give their names, were interviewed by the station.

One hotel survivor contemplates the ordeal he has just been through after being rescued from the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou

One hotel survivor contemplates the ordeal he has just been through after being rescued from the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou

Soldiers help to escort one badly hurt man out of the Splendid hotel, where 126 hostages are thought to have been rescued

Soldiers help to escort one badly hurt man out of the Splendid hotel, where 126 hostages are thought to have been rescued

A badly injured man is carried by several Burkinabe soldiers after being rescued from the deadly siege at the hotel

A badly injured man is carried by several Burkinabe soldiers after being rescued from the deadly siege at the hotel

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, nicknamed Mr Marlboro for his expertises in financing terrorism through smuggling cigarettes, is believe d to be the leader of the al-Qaeda linked al-Mourabitoun

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, nicknamed Mr Marlboro for his expertises in financing terrorism through smuggling cigarettes, is believe d to be the leader of the al-Qaeda linked al-Mourabitoun

al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) posted a statement on social media, claiming responsibility for the deadly attack in Burkina Faso

al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) posted a statement on social media, claiming responsibility for the deadly attack in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso has largely been spared the violence wracked by Islamic extremist groups in northern neighbour Mali

Burkina Faso has largely been spared the violence wracked by Islamic extremist groups in northern neighbour Mali

FOREIGN OFFICE WARNS BRITONS ABOUT TRAVEL IN BURKINA FASO

Britons have been warned not to travel to an area of Burkina Faso after a deadly attack by suspected Islamic terrorists on a hotel that is popular with Westerners.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned against travelling north of the town of Boulsa, as it is near to the border with Mali.

The FCO advice states: ‘You should avoid the area and follow the instructions of local security authorities.’

In a message posted in Arabic on the militants’ ‘Muslim Africa’ Telegram account, AQIM said fighters ‘broke into a restaurant of one of the biggest hotels in the capital of Burkina Faso, and are now entrenched and the clashes are continuing with the enemies of the religion.’

The same AQIM affiliate, Al-Mourabitoun, was responsible for the attack on the Radisson Hotel in Mali’s capital last November, which left 27 people dead, including a number of foreign nationals.

‘For the dead, we do not have a precise figure, but there are at least 20 dead,’ said Robert Sangare, the head of Yalgado Ouedraogo hospital.

‘We have had at least 15 wounded with bullet wounds and others who suffered injuries during the panic to escape.’

Sangare said one European woman being treated at the hospital told him the attackers appeared to target white people.

The hotel is sometimes used by French troops with Operation Barkhane, a force based in Chad and set up to combat Islamist militants across West Africa’s vast, arid Sahel region.

Russia’s Honorary Council in Burkina Faso, Anna Rachina-Kulibali, said foreigners were among the dead, ‘possibly including Europeans’.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3401845/Reports-explosion-gun-battles-upmarket-tourist-hotel-capital-Burkina-Faso.html#ixzz3xP7gZcCg
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Burkina troops retake hotel from Islamists: security minister — Cappuccino shop battle over, 126 hostages freed

January 16, 2016

Reuters

A view shows vehicles on fire outside Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in this still image taken from a video January 15, 2016, during a siege by Islamist gunmen.
REUTERS/REUTERS TV

Security forces ended a siege by al Qaeda fighters at a hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital on Saturday, killing three Islamist gunmen and freeing 126 hostages, the West African nation’s security minister said.

At least 20 people are believed to have been killed in the attack on Ouagadougou’s Splendid Hotel which began late on Friday. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the raid.

Simon Compaore said operations were still under way at a second hotel nearby, the Hotel Yibi, and security forces were trying to determine if some of the fighters were hiding there.

“The operations at the Splendid Hotel and the (nearby) Restaurant Cappuccino have ended. 126 hostages were freed, among them 33 were wounded,” the minister told Reuters. “Three jihadists were killed. They are an Arab and two black Africans.”

A Reuters witness said that clashes ended after a period of sustained gunfire and explosions that appeared to focus on the Restaurant Cappuccino early on Saturday.

Burkina Faso’s new government, which was appointed on Wednesday following the election of President Roch Marc Kabore in November, was due to hold an emergency cabinet meeting at 9 a.m. (4 a.m. ET)).

The Splendid Hotel is popular with Westerners and French soldiers based in Burkina Faso.

A doctor who treated some of those wounded in the attack said they had told him that the attackers appeared to target Westerners. However, the nationalities of those killed in the assault were not immediately known.

(Reporting by Mathieu Bonkoungou and Nadoun Coulibaly; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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