Mali junta advances on Tuareg rebel zone

Mali's army is advancing in a large column toward the strongholds of a coalition of Tuareg armed groups in the country's north, signalling an intensification of the conflict that erupted in August. Fighting has been reported close to the town of Anefis, which is around 110 kilometers from Kidal, the main base of the rebels. The former separatist groups signed a peace agreement with Malian authorities in 2015, but relations soured under the current junta-led government, which views armed-group control over northern territory as undermining state sovereignty. Tensions escalated after the junta demanded the withdrawal of a UN peacekeeping mission, and its forces started taking over Blue Helmet bases in northern areas claimed as autonomous territory by the Tuareg coalition. The military convoy is now reportedly seeking to take over former peacekeeper camps in Kidal, Aguelhok, and Tessalit, risking further fighting.

From The New Humanitarian, Oct. 6

Mali: drone strikes on Tuareg rebels

At least a dozen civilians have been killed in drone strikes carried out by Mali's ruling junta around the northern town of Kidal. The town is a base for Tuareg rebels that have been fighting the Malian army since a peace agreement collapsed in August. (TNH)

UN mission to Mali announces closure

The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) announced Dec. 11 it is closing after 10 years of service. Mali called upon the UN to withdraw from the country "without delay" in June. The UN began withdrawing the mission in July. (Jurist)