Former Tuareg rebels say forces attacked by Mali army and Wagner

Former rebels from the Tuareg group in northern Mali reported on Friday that their forces had been assaulted by the national army and the Russian mercenary organization Wagner.

In a Facebook statement, the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) announced that their troops successfully fended off a multifaceted assault launched by the Malian army (referred to as Fama) and the Wagner mercenary group in the town of Ber, situated in the northern Timbuktu region.

“We call the international community to witness these serious acts,” said CMA spokesman Mohamed Elmaouloud Ramadane, denouncing the attack as a “violation of all security commitments and arrangements”.

The Malian military asserted that it had responded decisively to an “attempted incursion” into their position on Friday, attributing the incident to “terrorist” elements.

On Thursday, the Tuareg former rebels declared the withdrawal of all their representatives from Bamako, citing “security” concerns, thus exacerbating the divide with the junta that has held control since 2020.

The CMA comprises a coalition of Tuareg-led factions aiming for autonomy or complete independence from the Malian government.

It is among the signatories of a 2015 peace accord with the Malian government.

The military administration of Mali has experienced a deteriorating relationship with its former colonial ruler, France, and has instead sought political and military assistance from Russia.

Wagner operates openly within Mali and in a minimum of three other African nations, often bolstering unstable governments in return for access to minerals and other valuable natural resources.

Within Mali, Wagner paramilitary forces provide security for the regime, engage in military activities and training, and offer guidance on matters such as revising mining regulations and even amending the constitution.

The administration in Bamako asserts that the foreign military instructors present in Mali are not affiliated with Wagner but rather belong to the regular Russian army.

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