- On Monday, October 16, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) announced that it had begun withdrawing troops from two camps in the tense Kidal region.
- The mission began its withdrawal from Mali’s northern region with the Tessalit and Aguelhok camps.
Anticipating the UN’s disengagement, the Malian army landed two aircraft at one of the camps in Tessalit. The army said that the aircraft came under fire from rebels during the landing, but that one plane managed to land and leave without too much difficulty after the air force neutralized enemy positions.
MINUSMA peacekeepers cited the shooting as an example of the rapid deterioration in security conditions for its soldiers. The mission has transferred four camps to Malian authorities since August, but the withdrawal from camps in the Kidal region and the city of Kidal itself, which is a stronghold of separatist fighters, could be the most sensitive.
Northern Mali is the scene of fighting between the Malian authorities, an alliance of groups seeking independence known as the CMA, and the al-Qaeda-linked group GSIM.
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The UN withdrawal from northern Mali is scheduled to be completed by December 31, after 10 years of presence. However, the camp departures have exacerbated rivalries between armed actors in the region.