Battle rages in Tessalit, battles and aerial bombardment
“The Malian air force flies at high altitudes to dodge the enemy’s artillery, but from there without it drops bombs without distinguishing targets clearly, killing civilians who were aboard two trucks and lots of cattle, the wealth of the Touareg people” said to MISNA one Mamatal Ag Dahmane, a spokesman for the refugees and victims of repression in Azawad (Arvra).
“The planes were piloted by mercenaries from Ukraine – addes the source to MISNA – and the area where the battle is raging is Tessalit. There are bombs as well as direct battles and confrontations on the ground. The first victim is the civilian population that continues to flee. ”
The use of airplanes and helicopters piloted by Ukrainians against the rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation dell’Azawad (Mnla) was reported in the press close to the positions of the Malian government in Bamako, which spoke of fighting that has now been under way for several days . Uncertain and not directly verifiable by independent sources are the death and casualty tolls. According to Bamako, the soldiers captured about fifty rebels, killing a hundred, which the MNLA disputes as it, in turn, reported a number of victims among the opponents. The MNLA also reiterated its alienation to the accusations made by the military of indiscriminate killings that occurred at Aguelhoc. Between 18 and 24 January – reported the same rebels through their website – in Aguelhoc, Malian army helicopters bombarded civilian and their own soldiers who had surrendered to the MNLA”.
Since last January 17, the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad has launched a broad offensive claiming to want to “liberate Malian occupation” of the northern region, the Azawad, inhabited by the Touareg. The fighting and the fear of reprisals by government troops have driven thousands of people, mostly Touareg, to find refuge across the border.
According to data provided by the ARVRA, at least 60,000 civilians are now in temporary camps set up in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria. Additional 30,000 people are displaced within the territory of Mali.