|08BAMAKO800||2008-09-17 16:17:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Bamako|
1.(U) Security forces in Gao are continuing their sweep for
suspects following the September 1 killings of four Tuaregs
in a village south of Ouatagouna near the Malian border with
Niger (Ref. A). During the early morning hours of September
14 a shoot out between security forces and bandits,
presumably belonging to the Songhai and Peuhl group known as
the Ganda-Izo, occurred in the Chateau neighborhood of Gao in
northern Mali. The Ganda-Izo is a spin-off of the Gandakoy
self-defense militia which fought against ethnic Tuaregs and
Arabs during northern Mali's 1991-1996 rebellion.
2.(C) The September 14 incident in Gao occurred at a house
near the residence of Mohamed ag Akiline, a Tuareg who is the
Director of the Malian Agency for Northern Development (ADN).
Armed guards have been stationed outside ag Akiline's house
since November 2007 when he, along with the Governor of Gao,
Col. Amadou Baba Toure, and the Algerian Consul were the
targets of an "assassination" plot allegedly hatched by
Gandakoy veterans (Ref. B). After the shoot out on September
14, some Embassy contacts initially reported that the gun
fire was centered around ag Akiline's residence. On
September 17, however, ag Akiline told the Embassy that the
Ganda-Izo members were holed up in a different residence
nearby. He said the security forces posted around his house
responded after some shots were fired in their direction.
There were no reported injuries. Police arrested some
individuals and several others escaped.
3.(U) On September 16 the Malian military attacked a
suspected Ganda-Izo hideout in the village of Fafa situated
75 KM south of Ansongo toward the Mali-Niger frontier. One
soldier and one suspect were reportedly killed. An unknown
number of individuals were wounded. After the attack,
military spokesman Col. Abdoulaye Coulibaly told local press
that security forces were patrolling the area and that the
army would "never accept the existence of a militia" in Mali.
The Malian army reportedly captured several individuals
after the operation in Fafa.
4.(U) Fafa is the village of Amadou Diallo, a founding
member of the Gandakoy and the presumed leader of the
Ganda-Izo. Diallo is a former Malian army officer who
deserted in the 1990s to create the Patriotic Gandakoy
Movement (MPGK). At the conclusion of 1991-1996 rebellion
the Malian government assigned Diallo, as part of the peace
agreement with various rebel group leaders, to a position
overseeing Malian imports at the port of Dakar in Senegal.
Diallo abandoned this post about 5 months ago. He is
currently believed to be in the Ansongo-Gao area.
5.(U) On September 17 a Malian newspaper, L'Independant,
published an interview with a resident of Fafa who witnessed
the attack. "We don't understand the government's attitude,"
said the Fafa resident. "The government is unable to assure
our security. Now, when a son of our country takes up this
mission, the government rises up to attack him with heavy
weaponry as though he were an enemy. This is unacceptable."
According to the L'Independant, another Fafa resident added:
"If the government fought Bahanga and Fagaga with the same
determination now directed against the Ganda-Izo, we would
have ended banditry in the Kidal region ages ago."
6.(C) Comment: Malian security forces have arrested an
estimated 44 individuals since the September 1 murders of
four Tuaregs in the village of Hourara near the Mali-Niger
frontier. It is unclear why some members of the Gandakoy
have regrouped as the Ganda-Izo now, after so many years of
inactivity. Following the September 1 murders, some Malian
contacts speculated that the Ganda-Izo was seeking to avenge
damage to property and animals incurred during the May 12
attack by a Tuareg rebel group in Ansongo. The September 14
shootout in Gao and Malian security forces' muscled response
suggest that something greater is afoot and many now believe
that Diallo is trying to reap some benefits, ala Ibrahim
Bahanga, from the on going peace negotiations between Mali,
Algeria and Tuareg rebels from Kidal.
7.(C) Comment continued: There are several important
differences between Diallo and Bahanga that may help explain
Mali's forceful reaction to the Ganda-Izo. Although Bahanga
is responsible for placing land mines that have killed and
displaced civilians, his attacks have generally targeted the
Malian military. The Ganda-Izo's strategy, on the other
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hand, seems to entail attacking civilians like the four
Tuaregs murdered on September 1. In addition, Mali may
regard Diallo, as an ethnic Peuhl, as one of its own, as
opposed to Bahanga and other Tuareg rebels who are more
closely associated with north Africans for both ethnic and
linguistic reasons. The appearance of a home-grown militia
movement ready and willing to attack Malian civilians in
northern Mali, at the very moment when negotiations over the
implementation of the Algiers Accords with Tuareg rebels are
once again on track, may be enough to stir Malian security
forces into rapid response mode.