Mali: Tuareg rebel leader Ibrahim ag-Bahanga killed in "accident" —link to Libya?
The most intransigent leader of the Tuareg rebels in Mali was killed Aug. 26 in a supposed accident in in his remote Saharan homeland. "Ibrahim ag-Bahanga died Friday in an accident in north-eastern Mali. His funeral has already taken place," said Baye ag Alhassane, a relative in a statement. The nature and circumstances of the accident were not made clear. Local sources cited by Reuters say he was involved in a dispute with fellow traffickers who were moving weapons to the Libyan rebels, who just toppled Moammar Qaddafi.
Alone among Mali's Tuareg rebel leaders, Ibrahim ag-Bahanga never recognized the 2006 Algiers Accords, which ended the insurgency. Ag-Bahanga instead founded the "May 23 Alliance," which launched in new small-scale insurgency in May, looting army depots for weapons and taking several soldiers captive. In early 2009, President Amadou Toumani Toure pledged to "destroy" ag-Bahanga's rebels, dispatching the army and mobilizing a local Arab militia. The government soon boasted it had put the insurgents to flight. Bahanga was exiled in Libya in February 2009, and returned to Mali in January, on a pledge that he "remain quiet." (AFP, Aug. 28; Ennaharonline, Reuters, Aug. 27)