By Rida Lyammouri

Note: Chronology of the attacks covered 01 December 2014 to 31 December 2015 period. For incidents that took place in Kidal city, please see previous post.

Violent extremist organizations (VEOs) operating in Kidal region include al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Ansar al-Din. In addition to VEOs related attackes listed below, here are key analysis to keep in mind about the area and both groups:

  • AQIM brigades known to operate in Kidal region include: katibat al-Ansar, katibat Tarik Ibn Ziyad, and katibat Yussuf Ibn Tachefin.
  • Kidal region is strategic to AQIM and Ansar al-Din in terms of logistics and local support. AQIM and Ansar al-Din rely on fuel, foodstuff, and possibly weapons smuggled from Libya or elsewhere through southeast Algeria and northwest Niger.
  • Villages on both sides of the borders provide ideal fall back to AQIM and Ansar al-Din due to ties with local communities.
  • Key villages with Iyad Ag Ghali influence include Boughessa, Tinzawaten, Abeibera, and Tassissat in Mali, and Timiaouine and Inerkache on the Algerian side. No presence of French, Malian, or MINUSMA forces in these villages on the Malian side provides ideal recruitment environment for Ansar al-Din and AQIM.
  • Communities in remote villages in Kidal region feel abandoned and neglected by Malian authorities.
  • On 16 October 2015, Iyad Ag Ghaly denounced the peace process and threatened to intensify attacks against French forces and their allies in Mali. He also made references to sleeping cells in Kidal, Mopti, Sikasso and Timbuktu regions.
  • On 01 July 2015, Ansar al-Din distributed flyers announcing future attacks on MINUSMA and French forces, and warned locals against collaboration with foreign and Malian forces.


    A Local Well Between Kidal and Anéfis. Source: Maghreb and Sahel Contributor

Key incidents: (will be happy to include any incidents I missed)

18 December 2014: MINUSMA vehicle struck an IED near its camp in Aguelhoc, Kidal region. 3 peacekeepers injured.

29 December 2014: At least 15 rockets were fired at a base shared by MINUSMA, French, and Malian forces in Tessalit, Kidal region.

31 December 2014: At least three rockets landed near the airstrip in Tessalit, Kidal region.

15 January 2015: Civilian vehicle struck and IED in Taghlit, Kidal region. 1 killed and 2 injured.

30-31 January 2015: French forces conducted an armed assault on group of militants near Abeibera, Kidal region. 12 jihadists reported killed, and weapons seized.

02 March 2015: An MNLA vehicle struck an IED 20km outside the city of Kidal, Mali. 3 MNLA fighters killed and 3 injured.

02 March 2015: French forces clashed with militants during an operation in Tigherghar Mountains, Kidal region. 4 militants reportedly killed and others escaped.

02 March 2015: French forces discovered and destroyed important quantity of ammunition and rockets in Tigherghar Mountains, Kidal region.

06 April 2015: French SOF launched an assault on a militant camp, killing 2 and arresting 2, then freeing Dutch hostage kidnapped and held by AQIM since 16 November 2011.

06 April 2015: MINUSMA vehicle struck an IED between Kidal and Anéfis while escorting contractors’ convoy. 2 peacekeepers injured.

16 June 2015: Unidentified militants launched five rockets on MINUSMA camp in Aguelhoc, Kidal region.

24 July 2015: Unidentified militants fired eight mortar shells on MINUSMA camp in Aguelhoc, Kidal region. Landed outside the camp and no casualties recorded.