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Posts Tagged ‘Bamako

Bamako, Capital of Mali, under terror attacks

Hostages seized, freed and scores dead

Four terrorists came in cars with diplomatic plates to this new hotel.

Francophone assembly was in progress: 125 invitees and 13 employees. Among them 15 French, 10 Chinese, 7 Turkish staff, Americans, Belgium and 45 Mali citizens.

Two gunmen fell and 2 taken prisoners.

28 ended dead from freeing the hostages. No precision on the fallen officials.

The attackers are affiliated with the Algerian leader Mokhtat bin Mokhtar whom the American drone was supposed to have eliminated a year ago: He is still alive.

Gunmen stormed a Radisson Blu hotel on Friday morning in Bamako, the capital of the West African nation of Mali, seizing scores of hostages and leaving bodies strewn across parts of the building.

A senior United Nations official said that as many as 27 people had been killed, with bodies found in the basement and on the second floor, according to a preliminary assessment of the devastating attack.

 Andrew Bossone shared a link.
The manager at the hotel in the West African capital of Bamako said 170 hostages were seized on Friday morning after at least two gunmen stormed the property.
http://www.nytimes.com|By DIONNE SEARCEY

An unknown number of gunmen, perhaps four or five, took “about 100 hostages” at the beginning of the siege, said Gen. Didier Dacko of the Malian Army. He said soldiers had sealed the perimeter and were now “inside looking for the terrorists.”

By late afternoon, the siege appeared to be ending.

No more hostages were being held, said Colonel Salif Traore, Mali’s minister of interior security. Two assailants had been killed, he said, but security forces were still sweeping the hotel for other attackers who had holed up in a corner of the hotel.

According to the operators of the hotel, 125 guests and 13 employees were inside the hotel after the siege began.

An American Defense official said that 12 to 15 Americans were believed to be at the hotel when the gunmen first arrived. Six American citizens were recovered safely from the hotel, he said. The status of the others is not clear.

American Special Operations forces “are currently assisting hostage recovery efforts,” said Col. Mark Cheadle, a spokesman with the United States Africa Command. “U.S. forces have helped move civilians to secure locations, as Malian forces work to clear the hotel of hostile gunmen.”

The siege in Mali, a former French colony, came only a week after terrorists with assault rifles and suicide vests killed 129 people in attacks across Paris.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack in Mali. Al Jazeera reported that it had received a recording asserting that a local militant group, Al Mourabitoun, had carried out the siege in conjunction with Al Qaeda’s regional affiliate, though the claim could not be independently confirmed.

Mali has long struggled with insurrection and Islamist extremism, including smaller-scale attacks on a restaurant and another hotel this year.

“We don’t want to scare our people, but we have already said that Mali will have to get used to situations like this,” President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali, who was on a visit to neighboring Chad, told France 24. “We must all remain humble. No one, nowhere, is safe given the danger of terrorism.”

Northern Mali fell under the control of rebels and Islamist militants in 2012. A French-led offensive ousted them in 2013, but remnants of the militant groups have staged a number of attacks on United Nations peacekeepers and Malian forces. Hundreds of French soldiers remain in the country.

The Radisson Blu hotel is a popular place for foreigners to stay in Bamako, a city with a population approaching two million, and French citizens were among those taken hostage.

About 20 Indian citizens were in the hotel at the time of the attack but were evacuated safely, the Indian ambassador to Mali said.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry said that two Germans were among the hostages who had been released from the hotel.

Four Belgians were registered in the hotel, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman in that country. At least one of them, a 39-year-old Belgian working for the Wallonia-Brussels regional parliament, died during the attack. He was in Mali for three days for a meeting.

A diplomat at the Chinese embassy in Bamako said that eight Chinese business people had been trapped in the hotel as well. Embassy officials at the scene were in touch with some of the Chinese hostages by WeChat, a Chinese messaging service, the diplomat said.

Later, China’s national broadcaster, CCTV, reported that four of the Chinese citizens had been freed.

Kassim Traoré, a Malian journalist who was in a building about 50 meters, or 160 feet, from the Radisson, said the attackers had told hostages to recite a declaration of Muslim faith as a way separating Muslims from non-Muslims. Those who could recite the declaration, the Shahada, were allowed to leave the hotel. The Shabab, a Qaeda affiliate in East Africa, used a similar approach in the attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013.

The security forces moved through the hotel, floor by floor, freeing hostages as they went, Mr. Traoré added.

Some of the people who fled the hotel were not wearing any clothes as they were taken to a police station.

“We were just evacuated from the hotel by security forces; I know that there are a lot of people inside right now,” one hostage who made it to safety told France24 television. “I saw bodies in the lobby. What is happening right now is really horrible.”

“I was hidden in my room barely a couple minutes, a couple seconds ago, and someone shouted, telling us to get out,” the hostage said. “My door was smashed open, the security forces arrived.”

Another French hostage, who did not want to be identified, told a friend in Bamako that a group of people were trapped on the roof of the hotel, along with the body of one person who had died in the attack. The hostage told the friend that the French Consulate had told hostages by text message to stay put and wait for a military assault.

Kamissoko Lassine, the chief pastry chef of the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, said that two armed men arrived at the hotel between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.

“They were driving a vehicle with diplomatic plates,” he said. “You know how easy that is at the hotel? The guards just lifted the barrier.”

“They opened fire and wounded the guard at the front,” said Mr. Lassine, who said he was able to slip out a back door and make it home safely. “They took the hotel hostage and moved people into a big hall.”

A member of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali, who asked not to be identified, said there were many French people in the hotel, including Air France staff members, along with a delegation for the International Organization of French Speakers. Air France later said in a statement that 12 members of its crew had been at the hotel and were freed.

Five Turkish Airlines crew members, including pilots and flight attendants, have also been freed, while two remained inside the hotel, a Turkish government official said.

Mali has been crippled by instability since January, 2012, when rebels and Al Qaeda-linked militants — armed with the remnants of late Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s arsenal — began advancing through the country’s vast desert in the north and capturing towns.

A military coup, stirred in part by anger over the government’s handling of the insurrection, overthrew Mali’s elected government in March 2012. Amid the chaos, Islamist rebels managed to consolidate their hold on the northern part of the country, imposing a harsh version of Islamic law.

In January of 2013, the Islamist forces began advancing south from their northern stronghold, heading in the direction of Mali’s capital. France sent in troops to stop them. A brief military campaign halted the Islamist advance, recaptured towns like Timbuktu that had been under the militants’ control, and chased the remaining Islamist fighters back into the desert.

But in a shocking twist, other militants linked to Al Qaeda stormed a vast gas production facility in the desert of neighboring Algeria, taking dozens of expatriate workers hostage. Some 38 were killed during the siege of the gas plant.

With hundreds of French troops still present in Mali and the country highly reliant on donors, elections in the summer of 2013 restored a democratic government. But its hold on the north remains weak.

There are frequent attacks by Islamist fighters, particular on United Nations troops, in the northern provinces. A shaky peace deal signed in June has not stopped the attacks, and in August five United Nations workers were killed in an assault on a hotel in central Mali. Five months before, militants killed five at a restaurant in Bamako.

The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, the operator of the Radisson Blu Hotel Bamako, said it was in contact with the local authorities, and the United States Embassy said it had issued a warning to staff members and American citizens to shelter in place.

France has about 800 troops stationed in Mali as part of a larger 3,500-member regional force in West Africa. Only about a dozen or so of those troops are in Bamako itself, however.

There was no formal claim of responsibility for the siege, but supporters of the Islamic State were posting on Twitter in celebration of the attack under the hashtags #IslamicState, #ParisIsBurning and #Mali_Is_Burning.

In the assault in August, jihadists stormed a hotel in Sévaré, north of the capital, where United Nations staff members were staying, seizing hostages and killing at least five Malian soldiers and a United Nations contractor.

From early on during the attack, dozens of hostages, many of them crying — including women, children and older people — streamed out of the hotel after hiding in their rooms, said Amadou Sidibé, a local reporter at the scene.

Western Africa, Rep. of Mali, Azawat, South Sahara Al Qaeda…What’s going on?

What of the Niger River? Looking at the map of western Africa (former French colonial region and still under French economic dominion), the Niger River starts on the borders of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and progress northward, crosses Bamako (capital of rep. of Mali), Segou, Tombouctou, Gao, and slant down toward Menaka (splitting  Mali in half).

And the river resumes its descent to the State of Niger, all the way to Nigeria and flows into the Delta in Nigeria (the Niger Delta, rich in oil production, particularly offshore).

The recent news reveal that the Tuareg independentists, men wearing “blue”, (planning for an independent Azawat State in north Mali) have captured the main towns and cities in north Mali, north of the Niger River, such as Gao, Kidal, Menaka

And that the Tuareg Islamic extremists and others from Mauritania and especially from Algeria (wrapped under the veil of Al Qaeda) have captured the historic city of Tombouctou and starting the process of imposing Islamic Sharia (gone the good time of music, dance and bare women faces…)

Minor officers in the army of Mali grabbed on the excuse of the army failure to confronting the advances of the militias up north by carrying on a military coup d’etat.

No States in Africa was pleased with this sudden coup and the rebellious officers had to bow down and promise to restitute power to the civilians.  The head of the parliament of Mali is to take over as interim President in order to organize the election in its due time by the end of Mai.

Azawat State?  

This desert region would constitute 65% of the area of Mali and populated with only 10% of the total of 14 million citizens.

The Tuareg tribes are estimated to be about 3 million people and criss-crossing a desert the size of Europe, sending caravans from and to Mauritania, Algeria, Libya, Niger, Tchad, and even to Sudan (the Darfur region)

What’s the story?

After the disintegration of Qadhafi Libya, around 400 veteran Tuareg soldiers had to return “Home”, and Algeria was happy to let its radical Islamists cross the border to north Mali (Algeria military was in constant battle with the Algerian Islamists for three decades after they won the election and the military refused to acknowledge the radical Islamists “democratic” victory).

What do you expect soldiers and people carrying arms to do in a desert region that no investments were done in schools, dispensary, hospitals, or any kind of infrastructure…?

The successive central governments of the poor State of Mali in natural resources had invested in the most populous region, the south, and let the vast north goes to hell…

The Tuareg were demanding investment in their region for the last 5 decades, but France failed to contribute any major assistance…

First, the Tuareg started taking hostages, European NGO and tourists, and it was a lucrative and brisk business…

After hell broke loose, the region lacked in tourists and in any financial aid, and conquering power was at hand…

Second, there are no military alternatives in these vast desert region…at most a few drone attacks, just to implicitly tell the rebels that the de-facto on the ground status will not be checked, but negotiations are needed that would satisfy Europe and the US economic future interest in oil and rare mineral exploitation and production.

(The later French military intervention didn’t bring tourists, safety and security. In fact, the new elected President of Mali didn’t dare yet visit the northern parts. And the virulent factions have spread and disseminated eastward toward northern Nigeria (Boko Haram connections), Cameroun, and Central Africa)

Third, most Western Africa Sates have artificial borders drawn by France, Spain and Italy, and the people on the borders come and go at will.

For example, Mali has an 800-kilometre border with Mauritania, and about 1,200 kilometres with Algeria, and as many with Niger...

Time to let minority people live in peace and enjoy their own language and life-style: A few million can go a long way in peace time, for basic necessity of survival…and basic preventive health care…

Note 1: This week, Jan. 12, 2013, France decided to come to the “rescue” of the government and army of Mali as the extremist jihadists advanced and captured a strategic city close to Mobti (key city separating north from south mali).

France is bombing the extremist jihadists and willing to send in 2,500 troops to aid the West African States military contingents.

Fact is, unless serious resources are secured to north Mali and political reforms are done in Mali, all of west Africa is liable to fall to the extremist Moslem jihadists.

Note 2: Take a look at this map of where resources are coming from to help France prosecute its war in north Mali. Is it a WW3 on Moslem Jihadists?

It must have been 1955.  I was less than 6 years old and one hour from death of thyphoid desease. The French military commander in the town of Sikassou was gracious to extend me and mother a lift in a small plane to the Capital Bamako: The Republic of Mali was then a French colony.  Two weeks in the cold chamber and three months later I had to be trained to learn to stand and walk.

My parents decided that a transfer to Lebanon, with much better “healthy” climate, was best for me.  I was thus confined for 6 years in a mountenous boarding school.  The school was run by the Maronite church.  My 3-year old brother joined me:  It was wiser not to play odds for another deadly desease.  Close cousins of mine (parents working in Africa) were also in the school:  Mainly for the same reason. 

A nun working in the school, who was a close relative to mother, received the injuction to protecting me from “dangerous” activities.  For 6 years, I was protected from “dangerous” activities:  I was not to join boy scouts, to join my schoolmate during summer time for two weeks vacation outside the confinement of the school, group games, or even undertaking games that were potentially dangerous like rollerskating or mounting on “echasse”.  I was a healthy boy though much samller and tinier than most boys my age.  I didn’t know the Arabic language (formal or slang) and ended up being two years older than my classmates with shorter stature.

My schoolmates felt and understood that I was a protected student not to be beaten or chastised lest dire consequences befell them; this implicit order applied to teachers and supervisors .  Yes, I was hated and despised for my unique situation.  I was saddened and outraged for my unique “favorite” condition and the shunning of classmates; it showed in occasional outbursts; angry conditions when I could not even hear what I was being told .

By the age of nine, I somehow was entitled to receive small cash allowances every month that I had no use for:  I barely ate or cared to eat; I had no “feasible dreams” in order to plan or to train any of my luxury tendencies.  I assimilated my fate that it was useless dreaming and being part of my schoolmate collective activities that were normally classified as potentially dangerous activities.  I think that satisfying my dreams by procurement was a normal reaction.  More than one students approached me to borrowing money in order to purchase rollerskating or other products.  Money had no meaning to me and I gave away whatever I had saved.

At school end of year ceremonies and activities, that I was not part of except standing as an angel with white wings, I clapped hard to the dangerous rollerskaters rolling down a harsh incline at vertiginous speed, jumping and crossing a circle on fire.  Was I clapping for my procured dreams?  I strongly doubt it.  I had no dreams by now to even consider procured dreams.  I think that I was clapping for enjoying the “moment” by default. 

I was living life by the moment: I had no plans and forgot how to plan anything.  You would think that these 6 years in boarding school must have been an eternity to me; not at all.  These 6 years could be wrapted in a single day: I don’t recall much; mostly a few instances related to physical matters.

Do you think adults can rejuvenate ancient dreams when they lost hope for dreaming in childhood?  Who would buy a pair of stupid rollersakes in an advanced age when he never learned the skills in childhood?  He must be mentally debil.  I think that I decided that, if I manage to save enough for a pair of rollerskates, I will buy a pair and then break a leg!  It is a stupid decision but it is better late than never to defying destiny.

If it was not for my aunt nun I think my folks might have incarcerated me in one of France boardingschools; I would not be the same person by simply joining collective games. 

I don’t think mankind is naturally capable of enjoying the “moment” (focusing on a thought or activity at every instant) and planning for their dreams simultaneously.   You either follow a plan or are forced to live the moment.  Schools institutions proclaim that their purpose is to prepare students for the future; implicitely, schools want to teach students to plan ahead and receive the necessary skills to fulfulling “future” plans.  There are institutions that disseminate this lie that they are encouraging individual reflections and training students acquiring individual confidence in their potentials.  Mostly, institutions are established to graduate cogs in the institutional machine system, regarless of the implicit philosophy of the system.

Student are not trained to enjoying the moment; schools implicitely believe that “enjoying the moment” is the main characteristic of children and thus, children do not need any conscious effort or training to be happy at any single moment.  I would be thrilled to hear a school claiming that its goal is teaching students to enjoying the moment: children are smart enough to feel that institutions are explicitly preparing them to plan through tightly programmed curriculum no whatever they claim otherwise.  It would still be a great breakthrough when any schooling institution becomes conscious of the necessity of teaching students of the skills of enjoying the moment.

“Development programs in Africa are planned poverty”; (Jan. 21, 2010)

This article introduces five young African authors and activists: Aminata Dramante Traore, George Ayittey, Celestin Monga, Marc Ona Essangui, and Rasna Warah.

            “Africa is not poor; Africa is being impoverished” wrote Aminata Dramante Traore.  Born in 1947, Aminata was minister of culture of the Republic of Mali (1997-2000); she is a pan African militant, author, and entrepreneur; she owns the restaurant-gallery Le San-Toro and the hotel Le Djenne in the Capital Bamako.  In 2008, Aminata published “Humiliated Africa” denouncing France policies that support dictatorial regimes to maintain its multinational exploitation of the continent: colonial powers still sustain the same contemptuous and contemptible discourse of the same colonial mentality.

In 1999, Aminata published “The vice (L’etau)”; she details the intellectual swindle and institutional mechanism of the Western powers (such as the neo-liberalism that structures the International Monetary Fund) that produce disastrous effects.  Under the cover of “liberty”, neo-liberalism is annihilating Africa competitiveness to the benefit of developed State funded subsidies of agricultural industries. Aminata is militating for the cancellation of fraudulent international debts and for Africa to set up selective protectionist programs that the developed nations applied for centuries.

In “The rape of the imaginary” Aminata denounces cultural oppression of the North to the South: Africa has just got to dig into its intellectual and social vision in order to draw and design proper sustainable economic development. Practically, Aminata works with local associations, peasants, and artisans.

            “Africa is poor: Africa is not free” stated the Ghana born professor of economics George Ayittey: He teaches at Washington University.  Ayittey published in 2005 “Africa in chains: project for development” that promote the ideas of improving infrastructures and the renegotiation of external debts.  George is more concerned with contradictory political actions performed by international aids since development cannot be “imposed from the outside”.

George focuses on absence of ethical conducts and lack of sense for general interests among the African politicians: many State governments are vampires.  In Africa, the richest individuals are politicians or ex-politicians.  The politicians are like “hippopotamuses (lazy, slow, and wicked) that ruined post colonial Africa”.

(As usual, authors keep hopes on newer generations “the cheetah” but this hope we have heard it many times in every generation). Ayittey created the “Foundation for free Africa” with headquarters in Washington and uses his connections among universities and the international institutions to defend his propositions.

            “Africa suffers of 4 fundamental deficits: confidence, knowledge, leadership, and communication” stated Celestin Monga.  Born in 1960 in Cameroon, he was imprisoned for 6 months by President Paul Biya for sending an open letter in 1991; Monga was released due to mass demonstrations and mobilizations.  Monga settled in the USA in 1992 and works at the World Bank in order “to design concrete projects” such as establishing a private university in Cameroon. 

Celestin said: “Educational systems in Africa are prolonging the colonial system of producing functionaries who are semi-literate.”  Monga published “Anthropology of Anger (1995)”; “Money of others (1997)”; “Getting out of monetary trap (1999)”, and “Nihilism and negritude (2009)”.

In “Arts of living in Africa” Celestin Monga interrogates the philosophy that the “multiparty administrations in Africa are incapable of generation new ideas since oppositions joined the governments; African civilization lost terrain in the last century; only infusion of renewed energy cam make a difference and Africans have got to revolt against skeptical thoughts; idealistic critics among the oppositions have to give way to pragmatic transformations.”

            “There are no lack of potentials and resources in Africa. The real evil in Gabon is bad governance, bad distribution of budgets generated from forest, mines, and oil exploitations” said Marc Ona Essangui.  Born in 1962, Essangui graduated in “genetic psychology” in 1991 because he had no access to university of law for disabled students since he is paraplegic from polio at the age of 6.

Essangui presides the association Brainforest and contributed in the creation “Publish” in 2002. Publish denounces secret contracts done by governments and multinationals (for example, the mine in Belinga and the controvertial victory of President Ali Bongo in 2009; Publish was suspended, its members imprisoned, and facilities ransacked. Essangui managed to get an exit visa to receive the Goldman Prize in San Francisco for his ecological engagements.

            “Development programs in Africa are planned poverty” claims Rasna Warah.  Born in 1962 in Kenya, Rasna is an Indian descendents from the early waves in the last century. There are currently over 70,000 of India origins who are gathered in communities after suffering reprisals after the Independence of Kenya; the arrival of Chinese entrepreneurs is exacerbating the social tensions.  Warah is a photographer and contributes to the Kenyan Daily Nation and the BBC; she said “It is exhausting to be Asiatic in Kenya”

Rasna published “Triple Heritage: A journey to self discovery (1998)”.  She denounced government inactions during the food crisis in 2008.  Warah participated in the UN-Habitat report “Status of cities in the world (2006-07)”.  Working at the UN encouraged Rasna conviction to interrogate the foundations of development in Africa.  Rasna gathered 15 authors in East Africa who witnessed the cases of “Missionaries, mercenaries, and misfits: An Anthology (2008)”; this book pleads for re-enforcing local institutions and the dangerous trends of “depoliticizing poverty


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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