October 15, 2014:
The Mali peacekeeping force, composed of 11,000 French and (mainly) African troops, is suffering a death rate of 240 per 100,000 per year (a standard measure of such things.) That’s higher than the 2013 rate (200) in Afghanistan for foreign troops. That was down from 587 in 2010, which was about what it was during the peak years in Iraq (2004-7). The action in Mali is less intense than in Afghanistan or pre-2011 Iraq and total casualties since mid-2013 are only about 125 dead and wounded. The casualties have been higher in the last month as Islamic terrorists from Mali settle into bases in southern Libya and are now regularly moving south to carry out operations in northern Mali. All this is possible because Libya is undergoing a civil war, mainly up north along the coast and no one bothers with Islamic terrorists who only kill across the border in Mali. There is a similar problem in Afghanistan with Islamic terrorists operations from several sanctuary areas in neighboring Pakistan and Iran.
While the government is continuing peace talks with northern rebels and all but one (Ansar Dine) of the local Islamic terrorist groups. Those talks are stuck on the rebel (mostly Tuareg tribes who comprise most of the population up there) demand for more autonomy. The government and foreign experts see this as a ploy to gain more freedom to carry on with illegal activities (mainly smuggling drugs, weapons, illegal migrants and consumer goods). This sort of activity finances criminal gangs and Islamic terrorist groups alike and generates a lot of cash. It is the cash that is talking up north, although most northerners just want peace and some prosperity (which requires more economic activity, legal or otherwise.)
(Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) remains the umbrella group for nearly all Islamic terrorists in the region, especially in Mali and neighboring countries. France now has 3,000
troops equipped and organized to fight Islamic terrorists throughout the Sahel (mainly Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso). This force was set up in July and includes the thousand French troops in Mali. The other 2,000 are ready to quickly move from bases elsewhere in the region to wherever the most Islamic terrorist activity had been detected. The Americans are a junior partners in this, providing satellite and UAV surveillance and other intel services (especially analysis and access to nearly all American data on Islamic terrorist activities in the region). All this is meant to keep the Islamic terrorists in the Sahel weak and disorganized. So far that has worked, but AQIM is still getting support from Islamic terrorists in Europe and the Persian Gulf, where wealthy Islamic conservatives are still willing to finance Islamic terrorism in Africa. Islamic terrorists are continuing to carry out attacks in northern Mali mainly to let the world know that Islamic terrorist groups are still present in the area. The recent spike in attacks reminded everyone how important the Libyan sanctuary was. Until the terrorist sanctuary in Libya can be eliminated the Islamic terrorist problem will persist in the region.
October 9, 2014: In neighboring Niger French troops, in cooperation with local forces, intercepted and destroyed an AQIM convoy carrying weapons and ammunition from Libya to Mali. Some of the Islamic terrorists involved were captured.
October 8, 2014: Mali has asked the UN to establish assign some of its peacekeepers up north to a rapid reaction force that could better deal with the growing number of Islamic terrorist attacks. Mali was also concerned about the growing number of complaints (from people in the countryside) about marauding bandits and Islamic terrorists up north. The UN replied with reminders that more helicopters are on the way and these will make it easier to find and attack any Islamic terrorists in the north.
October 7, 2014: In the north (Kidal) a rocket was fired into a peacekeeper base, killing one peacekeeper (from Senegal). Two other peacekeepers were wounded.
October 3, 2014: In the northeast (Gao) a convoy of peacekeepers (from Niger) were attacked by
MUJAO (Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa) gunmen on motorcycles. Nine of the peacekeepers were killed and MUJAO (also known as MUJWA) took credit for the attack two days later. MUJAO is basically a Mauritanian faction of AQIM and there was always some tension between the two groups. AQIM had the most money and weapons and used this to exercise some control over MUJAO and Ansar Dine when the three groups controlled the north in 2012. The other two radical groups outnumbered AQIM in Mali. MUJAO and AQIM were sometimes at odds with Ansar Dine, which felt it should be in charge because it was Malian. After the French led an invasion of the north in early 2013 MUJAO, which had occupied and run GAO fled with some of the surviving members moving across the nearby border to Niger while other headed for southern Libya.
September 23, 2014: In the north (outside Timbuktu) a Tuareg man was beheaded by Islamic terrorists after being accused of spying for the French. The victim and four other Tuareg men were kidnapped by Islamic terrorists a week earlier and the other four were later released. The Islamic terrorists were believed to be from AQIM.
September 18, 2014: In the north (Kidal) a peacekeeper vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, killing five Chad soldiers and wounded three others.