Mali junta seizes strategic northern stronghold of Kidal

© Souleymane Ag Anara, AFP

Mali’s army has recaptured the strategic northern town of Kidal, a stronghold of Tuareg-dominated separatist groups that has long posed a major sovereignty issue for the ruling junta.

The capture of Kidal is a significant symbolic success for Mali’s military leaders, who seized power in 2020.

Violence has escalated in the north of Mali since August, with the military, rebels and jihadists vying for control as the UN stabilisation mission, MINUSMA, withdraws from the country and evacuates its camps, triggering a race to seize territory.

“Today our armed and security forces have seized Kidal,” the head of the junta, Colonel Assimi Goita said in a statement read by a presenter during a special news flash on state television.

“The (Malian Armed Forces) took up position in the town of Kidal this Tuesday,” the general staff said earlier in a statement on social media.

The rebels also issued a statement later in the day, admitting they had lost their stronghold town but vowing to keep fighting.

The Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), an alliance of predominantly Tuareg armed groups, said it had withdrawn from Kidal “for strategic reasons” after having “for several days halted (the army’s) advance by inflicting great human and material losses”.

“The fight continues,” the group insisted.

But the junta had long signalled its determination to retake it.

Humiliating defeats

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