Al-Qaeda militants may have infiltrated Mali’s pro-government militias, which the African state has relied on to fight Tuareg insurgents. The BBC notes that a pair of recent suicide bombings follow the pattern of al-Qaeda attacks:
Gatia fighters [the pro-government militia], accompanied by suicide bombers, attacked a rebel Tuareg and anti-government Arab position in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday near the town of Tabankort. There were a dozen deaths in total,” a Western military source told AFP. […]Only al-Qaeda-linked groups have up to now carried out suicide bombings in Mali, and it is likely that they have infiltrated Gatia.
The UN attempted to disarm the region’s allied militias this month, but soon found that it had no way to force the parallel disarmament of the Tuaregs. Riots against these unilateral disarmaments led UN peacekeeping troops to shoot three protesters this week (an inquiry is pending).The Maghrebi Al-Qaeda affiliate (AQIM) has taken full advantage of Mali’s northern troubles. It has supplied the region with troops and weapons from Libya for years, and continues to move from Libya through Niger to Mali’s north with impunity. Al-Qaeda’s reported presence in Mali doesn’t bode well for stability in any of these countries.