Country Report Mali
- ID: 2138674
- January 2016
- Region: Mali
- 25 Pages
- The Economist Intelligence Unit
Armed men thought to be linked to jihadi groups have abducted a Swiss missionary living in Timbuktu, illustrating the insecurity that persists in northern Mali, even in communities where support for the government is strong.
The abduction of Beatrice Stockly illustrates the difficulties of restoring an international non-military presence in northern Mali. Although most locals remain warmly welcoming of Westerners, it is almost impossible to protect them fully against the risk of kidnap or attack by the armed jihadis still active in the region. Malians are also at risk if they engage in activity that the jihadis dislike. In December three people, including two Catholics, were killed in Timbuktu, and government personnel and property are at risk. The jihadis have particular disdain for Timbuktu's strong traditions of peaceful Sufi Islam. Local saints' tombs were damaged by the extremists during their occupation of the ancient city in 2012 and over the past year local builders, helped by the UN peacekeeping force, MINUSMA, have been rebuilding them.
Across the country, the authorities and the international forces now find themselves tackling threats from a number of jihadi groups, some with strong international links. Mali's chief prosecutor, Boubacar Sidki Samake, has just announced that on the bodies of one of the jihadis who attacked the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 20th the authorities found a scrap of paper demanding the release of two members of al-Mourabitoun detained in Mauritania and Niger; al-Mourabitoun is led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian jihadi now based in Libya.