Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

FIFA President Sepp Blatter steps down amid South Africa World Cup 2010 bribery claims

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Reactions to Sepp Blatter's resignation

Read more

DEBATE

Defeating ISIS: Back to the drawing board?

Read more

FOCUS

The monk who saved ancient manuscripts from IS jihadists

Read more

ENCORE!

Amer Shomali: Harnessing black humour to tell Palestinian stories

Read more

REPORTERS

Video - Abu Azrael: ‘Iraq’s Rambo’

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Australian FM Bishop: In the fight against IS group, 'we are dealing with non-state actors'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Are state-subsidised jobs the solution to France's rising unemployment?

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Nigeria currency scam: Anti-corruption agency arrests 20 bankers

Read more

Africa

High-ranking Islamists arrested in northern Mali

© AFP

Video by FRANCE 2 , Noémie ROCHE , Katerina VITTOZZI

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-02-04

Two high profile Islamist militants, one of whom was a member of a group that controlled Timbuktu until last week, have been arrested by a rival armed group.

The number-three leader of the armed Islamist group that controlled Timbuktu in northern Mali until last week, Mohamed Moussa Ag Mouhamed, has been arrested near the Algerian border, sources said on Sunday.

"The number three leader of Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith), the one who sowed terror, who ordered people's hands cut off, who supported the strict application of sharia, was arrested by an armed group," a Malian security source said.

Mohamed Moussa, as he was known in Timbuktu, is being taken to the northeastern city of Kidal, the last bastion of rebels who controlled northern Mali for 10 months before being ousted in a French-led military operation launched on January 11, the source said.

Conflicting accounts

The information was confirmed by a Kidal regional official, Abdoulaye Toure, though the two sources gave conflicting accounts on which of the area's rival groups had arrested him.

The arrest was believed to have been carried out either by the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA), a Tuareg separatist movement, or an Ansar Dine splinter group, the Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA).

Azawad is the Tuareg name for northern Mali.

"He was the ideologue of Ansar Dine in Timbuktu," Toure said.

"He was called Ansar Dine's number three, but in reality he was the brain of the organisation, the doctrine in Timbuktu. He was arrested in Hallil near the Algerian border by a (formerly) allied armed group."

Second arrest

Toure also said a man accused of taking part in the kidnapping of a French hostage in November had been arrested in the same area. FRANCE 24’s correspondents in Mali, Willy Bracciano and Maïssa Awad, confirmed the report, identifying the suspect as Oumeini Ould Baba Akhmed, a member of the al Qaeda-linked Movement for Unification and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).

French officials say seven French hostages are believed to be held in the area, which is near where 30 French warplanes carried out major air strikes on Sunday.

Kidal, which French and Chadian troops have been working to secure, was an Ansar Dine stronghold, but the MIA recently broke away and renounced "extremism and terrorism".

(FRANCE 24 with wires)
 

 

Date created : 2013-02-03

  • MALI - FRANCE

    French air strikes target Islamist bases in Mali

    Read more

  • MALI - FRANCE

    French mission in Mali not over, says Hollande

    Read more

  • FRANCE - MALI

    Al Qaeda silent on French hostages in Mali

    Read more

COMMENT(S)