Chadian soldiers in northern Mali in tension with MNLA rebelsSouce:Xinhua Publish By Thomas Whittle Updated 17/04/2013 1:08 am in World / no comments
BAMAKO, April 16 — Chadian soldiers deployed in northern Mali are in tension with the separatist rebel group MNLA over the Malian army’s control of the town of Kidal, local sources told Xinhua on Tuesday.
“The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) accuses the Chadian forces of planning to allow the Malian forces to be deployed to the town, hence last Friday’s suicide attack against the Chadian soldiers,” the sources said, declining to be identified.
On Monday afternoon, tensions appeared in Kidal MNLA supporters and the Chadian forces based at the camp 2 of the Malian army.
“The MNLA mobilized some of its supporters on Monday afternoon to go and protest in front of the camp where the Chadian forces are residing. The Chadian forces almost wanted to react, but one of their commanders ordered them not to be provoked. However, there’s still tension between the two sides,” the sources added.
There have been reinforcements in Kidal to prepare for the eventual arrival of the Malian forces in the town.
In another development, 40 Malian police officers arrived on Monday night in Gao, another northern town, to take part in security operations alongside the Malian gendarmes.
Malian police were demilitarized in 1993 after the adoption of pluralist democracy in the West African country.
The MNLA is different from Al-Qaida linked rebels such as those of AQIM, Al-Qaida’s North African branch. The Malian government has been seeking dialogue with the separatist group, which declared independence in the aftermath of the coup on March 22, 2012, but has distanced itself from Al-Qaida linked rebels in northern Mali.
The Mali government is in the process of restoring administrative control of its north after months of occupation by rebels, who were routed out by allied forces from France, Mali’s former colonial ruler, and other African countries in January. The government vows to hold an election this year to end the political crisis.