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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Robow, the Teacher Killer and Economic Expert

An Islamist guerrilla group in Somalia is responsible for the brutal slaying of four school instructors after fighters briefly seized a key town without bloodshed.

A spokesman for al Shabaab fighters, Muktar Robow "Abu Mansur," did not distance his armed group from killing the four civilians in Beletwein, a provincial capital near the Ethiopian border.

"Our fighters did not intentionally kill the teachers," Abu Mansur told the AP.

Al Shabaab guerrillas captured Beletwein after Hiran Governor Yusuf Daboged and regional security forces withdrew from the town Sunday night, locals said.

The governor was last reported to have safely reached the border village of Feer Feer, a key base for Ethiopian troops deployed in Somalia's central regions.

In Beletwein, the Islamist guerrillas seized control of all government buildings and burned the home of Governor Daboged, before withdrawing voluntarily.

The four teachers - two Kenyans and two British citizens of Somali origin - were killed outside of a private, English-language school.

But the al Shabaab spokesman was eager to distance his militant group from flyers spread throughout markets in the capital Mogadishu, threatening traders to lower the exchange rate or face death.

Abu Mansur said that al Shabaab is not responsible for those flyers, adding: "Soon, we will take steps against those groups [who spread the flyers]," he told Mogadishu-based radio stations Monday.

He blamed the governments of Somalia and Ethiopia for hyperinflation, which has severely devalued the Somali Shilling and contributed to rising market prices for common goods.

According to Abu Mansur, the Ethiopian government wants to eradicate the Somali Shilling and replace the country's currency with the Ethiopian birr.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mali Army Officers (Tuaregs) are Executed When Eent to Negotiate Austrians' Release

This article appeared April 22, 2008, and I did not catch it until now.
However, therre are some Key names,dates, and events in the Mali Tuareg rebellion.


BRIEFSMYSTERIOUS MURDERS OF TUAREGS NEGOTIATING WITH AL-QAEDA KIDNAPPERS IN MALIThe bodies of three brutally executed men were found in the desert region of Kidal in northern Mali last week.

The victims turned out to be two Tuareg negotiators and a driver, assigned to mediate the release of two Austrian tourists, Wolfgang Ebner and Andrea Kloiber, who were kidnapped in February by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) while on an “adventure holiday” in Tunisia. The kidnappers are believed to be under the command of AQIM leader Abdel Hamid Abu Zayd, thought to be the Saharan amir of AQIM, Yahia Abu Amar, selected the mediators and made arrangements for the meeting.

  • In exchange for the Austrians, AQIM is demanding a ransom and the release of an Islamist and his wife that the group claims are being held and tortured in “the Austrian Guantanamo” (AFP, April 7).
  • The murders of two of the six mediators appointed to negotiate the release of the two Austrians came only several days after negotiation efforts began (Al-Jazeera, April 16).
  • The mediators were former rebel Tuareg commanders who were recently integrated into the Malian army as part of a peace deal struck last year.
  • A student who was acting as a driver for mediator Baraka Cheikh was also killed after apparently being mistaken for Colonel Muhammad Ould Midou, another Tuareg officer (El Khabar [Algiers], April 20).
  • On arrival at a tent sent up for the purpose of negotiations, the men were tied up and repeatedly shot in the head. The military commander of the Malian Tuareg rebels is Lt. Col. Hassan Fagaga, who has twice been integrated into the Malian army but has returned to the desert rebellion both times. Fagaga is now reported to be in league with rebel leader Ibrahim Ag Bahanga, who held out from last year’s accord with the government (Reuters, April 8).
  • In March Fagaga threatened to “eliminate” any al-Qaeda operatives who ventured into the area controlled by the Tuareg rebels, though he acknowledged that some AQIM members had infiltrated the area around Kidal, close to the Algerian border and the scene of heavy fighting between the rebels and the Malian army last month (El Khabar, March 5).

Though there is little evidence so far as to who is responsible for this crime, some Tuareg suspect intelligence agents connected to the Malian Army of carrying out the murders. Referring to continuing ethnic tensions within Mali, Hassan Fagaga claims: “There is a plan to execute the commanders in the Malian army of Tuareg origin in the north…” (El Khabar, April 17). After the announcement of an unofficial truce earlier this month between Tuareg rebels and the Malian army, the heavy fighting seen in March has slackened off, though both sides remain on a war footing. The Tuareg rebels have their own hostages: 33 Malian soldiers who were captured last month but not released as they were supposed to be under the terms of the latest ceasefire.

  • Negotiations for the release of the Austrians appear to have been suspended, though the Austrian Foreign Ministry asserts that efforts are continuing to obtain the release of the pair.
  • Libya has also become involved in the negotiations at the highest levels, but three deadlines set by AQIM have already expired.
  • Austria has denied sending its “Cobra” Special Forces team (Einsatzkommando Cobra, or EKO) to Mali to retrieve the hostages (El Khabar, March 26).

Full Article from Jamestown

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

FARS Joins MNJ in Niger Rebellion

By Abdoulaye Massalatchi
NIAMEY, April 8 (Reuters) -
Toubou tribesmen in the extreme southeast of Niger said on Monday they had killed seven soldiers, appearing to open up a new front in a growing conflict between Saharan nomads and the government.

The Toubou-led Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Sahara (FARS) said it had also captured six more soldiers in fighting over the weekend in the region of Diffa, 1,400 km (870 miles) southeast of the capital Niamey.

Niger's army confirmed the clashes but said only two people had been killed, one on each side.

FARS said last week it was joining forces with the Niger Justice Movement (MNJ),

a Tuareg-led insurgency which has killed at least 70 government soldiers since February last year in a campaign for greater economic and political autonomy.
  • "The justice and good governance that we want for our country, we want for all people in Niger, be they in the south or north, the east or west," FARS President Bocar Mohamed Sougouma said on the MNJ Web site.

Numerous light-skinned ethnic Tuareg, Arab and Toubou groups in Niger's northern and eastern deserts staged a joint uprising in the 1990s to demand greater independence from the country's black African-dominated government.Some Tuareg groups accepted a 1995 peace deal but the Toubou FARS held out until 1997, when they were granted an amnesty.

Former fighters have since accused the Niger government of failing to respect those accords.

Frustrations have boiled over again as the government encourages more foreign mining companies to invest in the northern Agadez province, home to one of the world's richest reserves of uranium.

Some nomads who feel economically marginalised despite the 1990s peace deals, which were meant to better integrate them, say only the government more than 1,000 km (620 miles) away in Niamey is benefiting from the investment.

Niger's government does not recognise the MNJ, dismissing the group as common bandits and drug traffickers and has so far refused to negotiate with them.

The region around Agadez has been awash with arms since the end of the 1990s rebellion and is criss-crossed with smuggling routes carrying everything from

  • fake cigarettes
  • small arms
  • migrants

often with the complicity of the security forces.A senior police commissioner and Interior Ministry official in Niamey, Abdoulaye Amadou, was detained this week and is being investigated for links to the rebellion, said the rebels and another senior police officer

"Information has been established that he had contacts with armed bandits, without any official authorisation, and we have to clear all that up," the officer said, asking not to be named.

The Rest @