On Friday February 7, 2014 near the northern Mali town of Tamkoutat, thirty-one people were killed in two ambush attacks by Islamists.
The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) was responsible for the attacks, according to Mali’s interior ministry. Last week near the Niger border there was a clash between Tuareg villagers and Islamists—seventeen civilians and thirteen MOJWA were killed. In Niger, Boko Haram based in Nigeria was recently staging an attack–more than twenty of the Islamists were captured. In January eleven Islamists preparing for a mission were killed by French troops in Mali, and a large cache of weapons seized. In another incident a UN military vehicle struck a land mine near the town of Kidal—injuring five soldiers.
These attacks have all occurred since the French-led troops drove the Islamists from Mali’s northern towns. In January 2013 the incursion had stopped the Islamists’ advance from Konna to Bamako, the capital, a distance of 300 miles. By March most of the Islamists had been dispersed into the vast desert and mountainous region. MOJWA, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Ansar Dine Islamists have since carried out targeted attacks against Malian, French and UN troops.