Tuareg rebels 'humiliated' over journalist murders

4th November 2013, Comments 0 comments

The main Tuareg rebel group in Mali said on Monday it had been humiliated by the murder of two French journalists in its desert stronghold but had been denied the opportunity to help find the killers.

Ghislaine Dupont, 57, and Claude Verlon, 55, were kidnapped and shot dead by what French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said were "terrorist groups" in the flashpoint northeastern town of Kidal on Saturday.

"We asked to participate in the hunt for the authors of this heinous act but nothing is decided," Mahamadou Djeri Maiga, vice-president of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) told AFP from neighbouring Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou.

French troops are working with Malian security forces to hunt the killers of Dupont and Verlon, both veteran journalists with Radio France Internationale (RFI) who had many years' experience working in Africa.

"They are refusing even to show us the vehicle used for the kidnapping, even though seeing it could put us on the trail of the terrorists," Maiga told AFP.

"Despite this, we are conducting investigations. We are making our own enquiries and we will share our results with those responsible for the case. We cannot sit idly by and do nothing."

The journalists had travelled to Kidal to interview a spokesman for the MNLA, and were abducted outside his home, according to RFI.

Kidal is a key town in the vast northern territory the Tuareg call Azawad and the focus of several separatist rebellions from within the community in recent decades, and the MNLA says the murders are an affront to its fighters.

Maiga said the group felt powerless to act. "They cannot humiliate us like this, because the journalists were kidnapped in front of an MNLA leader. This is not possible."

An accord signed in Ouagadougou in June envisaged a cessation of hostilities between the Malian army and the MNLA in the run-up to the presidential elections which saw Ibrahim Boubacar Keita become president in August.

MNLA fighters were confined to camps while security was handed over to the UN's MINUSMA peacekeeping mission, Malian troops and French soldiers who launched Operation Serval in January to oust Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists who had occupied the north.

"Since the signing of the Ouagadougou Agreement, the MNLA has not controlled any city in Azawad," Maiga said.

"The whole area is under the control of MINUSMA, Serval and Malian armed forces. The MNLA has nothing under his control as regards security," he said.


© 2013 AFP

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