Archive for Mali
The International Relations Department said it planned to reopen its embassy in Mali, as soon as the security situation has stabilised. The West African country’s borders were closed and airports shut down on Wednesday, after President Amadou Toumani Toure was ousted by the military in a coup. Embassy officials and other stranded South Africans were advised to stay indoors on Monday because the situation was still volatile. The department’s Clayson Monyela said it was unclear when communications will be restored. “As soon as the security situation improves we will reopen the embassy. At the moment the embassy is closed and all our officials are accounted for.”
Canada has closed its embassy in Mali, following a military coup that has plunged the West African country into chaos and violence. “The embassy in Bamako will be closed until further notice,” Foreign Affairs announced on Twitter. The department is warning Canadians in Mali – especially those in the capital Bamako – to hunker down and stay safe. “Those located in the Bamako affected neighbourhoods are advised to remain where they are,” the department tweeted. “Canadians in Bamako are advised to minimize their movements and stay away from the airport until further notice.” Barricades of burning tires have been lit in the streets of the capital, and gunfire was heard as soldiers raced through the streets in trucks, according to the BBC. Injuries have been reported. The Department of Foreign Affairs is urging Canadians in Mali to avoid all travel to Bamako, and to contact the embassy or consular services in Ottawa. “Canadians in Mali who are not yet registered with our embassy in Bamako should do so now,” the department said via Twitter. “Canadians in Mali requiring emergency assistance – contact us at 613-944-2471 or sosinternational.gc.ca.”
Amadou Toumani Toure, the leader of Mali who the army claims to have ousted, left the presidential palace in Bamako, the capital, and sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy in the city. Toure left the palace in the night, the Paris-based publication said on its website, without saying how it got the information. No one answered the phone at the U.S. Embassy in Bamako.
A 24-year-old Tunisian was sentenced to death inMalion Tuesday for an attack on the French embassy in Bamako in January, his lawyer said. “My client, who was tried on Monday for terrorism and escaping from prison, was sentenced to death” by a court in Bamako, Bachir Simoun’s lawyer Waly Diawara told AFP. Simoun, armed with a hand gun, an explosive device and a grenade, attacked the embassy on January 5. A Malian later died of injuries sustained in the attack. Simoun escaped from prison in February while awaiting trial, but was arrested in Gao in the north of Mali two days later. Simoun had claimed membership of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, but had acted alone, according to investigators. While capital punishment can still be imposed by Malian courts, it has not been carried out for years.
An official in Mali says a suspect in a January attack on the French Embassy has escaped from jail. The official who works in the presidency asked his name not be used as he is not authorized to speak to the press. He gave no further details. The suspect was arrested Jan. 5 after the attack that wounded at least two people. Police said the man claimed to be a Tunisian member of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The group, however, did not claim responsibility for the attack. Mali’s government said the attack was an isolated incident. The al-Qaida franchise operates in the former French colony and has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping last year of five French citizens and two others who worked at a French-owned uranium mine in neighboring Niger.
At attack this week on France’s embassy in Mali was probably the act of an isolated attention-seeker and there was no proof the assailant was linked to Sahara-based Islamist militants, Malian officials said. Malian authorities arrested a Tunisian man and his room mate after the Tunisian threw an explosive device at France’s embassy in the Malian capital Bamako, wounding two people. “I think this was an isolated incident. It looks like someone who wanted a “media scoop” for himself,” Sadio Gassama, Mali’s minister for security said on state radio on Friday. Mali’s remote desert north is at the heart of a rising threat from the North African wing of al Qaeda, known as AQIM, which has stepped up attacks on local armies and raised millions of dollars in ransom payments for kidnapped Westerners. However, Sounkalo Togola, a spokesman for Mali’s security ministry, said that there was no evidence to suggest Bechir Sinoun, the Tunisian suspect, was linked to any group.
A Tunisian man who claimed to be an Al-Qaeda member exploded a gas cylinder in front of the French embassy in Mali”s capital Bamako, says a police source. “We are on the Al-Qaeda track,” the source said. “The Tunisian we have arrested told us he belongs to Al-Qaeda.” The source said the man belonged to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), which experts believe has bases spread across Algeria, Mauritania and Mali. Security sources said two Malians were slightly wounded by the blast on Wednesday. In a statement, the Malian security ministry said: “Around 6:00 pm (1800 GMT) a foreign individual exploded a gas cylinder in front of the French embassy in Bamako, lightly injuring two passersby. “The individual was armed with a pistol but could not use it. He is being interrogated by police,” it said. A security source said that the man had fired several shots at the door of the embassy. The French foreign ministry confirmed the incident, speaking of only one person being wounded. The ministry”s deputy spokesperson Christine Fages said: “There was an explosion that was not accidental in front of the French embassy which very slightly wounded one person of Malian nationality among its staff. AQMI is holding in the Sahara five French nationals, a Togolese and a Malagasy who were kidnapped in September at Arlit, a strategic mining site of French nuclear giant Areva in north Niger. In August 2009 a young man blew himself up in Nouakchott, capital of neighbouring Mauritania, near the French embassy lightly injuring two French gendarmes and a Mauritanian woman. AQMI claimed the attack carried out by a Mauritanian suicide bomber. AQMI later again designated France as a target after a Franco-Mauritanian operation last July 22 against an Al-Qaeda base in Mali aimed at freeing a French hostage, Michel Germaneau, 78. But the operation failed and AQMI later announced it had killed the hostage.
The Swedish government said it would close six Swedish embassies, including five in Europe, this year and open 10 new embassies. Embassies facing closure were based in European Union members Bulgaria, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and Slovenia. “Within the framework of the close cooperation that exists between the EU member states, there is scope for developing new forms for maintaining bilateral contacts in future,” Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said. Meanwhile, Sweden is to upgrade its missions in Albania, Kosovo, Georgia and Moldova to embassies. The sixth embassy to be closed was in Dakar, Senegal, while section offices were to be upgraded in Senegal’s West African neighbours Burkina Faso, Liberia and Mali as well as Rwanda, Bolivia and Cambodia.