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Cablegate: Malian Soldiers Kill Tuareg Gendarme in Gao

VZCZCXRO9277
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHBP #1254 2981411
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251411Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAMAKO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8339
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BAMAKO 001254

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM ASEC PINS ML
SUBJECT: MALIAN SOLDIERS KILL TUAREG GENDARME IN GAO

1. On October 17 Assaleh ag Mohamed, an ethnic Tuareg and
former rebel who was integrated into the Malian gendarmarie
in 1996, was killed by members of the Malian regular army in
Gao. Unofficial sources in Gao report that the killing
occurred in a garage area within the confines of a Malian
military camp. The soldiers suspected of killing ag Mohamed
are southern Malians who belong to a regiment based in Kati.
They had recently been ordered to the northern front of
Tinzawaten where the Tuareg rebel Ibrahim Bahanga is holding
several dozen Malian soldiers hostage.

2. Ag Mohamed, who was posted to the town of San in central
Mali, was returning to duty after several days of leave in
his home village of Tinaouker about 70 KM north of Gao.
Several versions of the circumstances surrounding ag
Mohamed's death have surfaced. Official reports, conveyed by
the government newspaper L'Essor, indicate that ag Mohamed's
death was accidental and resulted from miscommunication at a
military checkpoint after ag Mohamed allegedly failed to
properly identify himself. In a second version advanced by
Tuaregs based in Gao, soldiers became suspicious of ag
Mohamed after he was spotted using a satellite telephone
while parked in front of the military base. According to
this version, which has not been confirmed by Malian
officials, ag Mohamed was brought into custody within the
base and subsequently bound, beaten and shot. These sources
also allege that ag Mohamed was carrying the equivalent of
18,000 dollars in cash collected from his family to purchase
a car.

3. The Malian military is currently investigating the
murder. Perhaps as many as ten soldiers are being held in
connection with the case. Several postings to Tuareg
websites have described ag Mohamed's murder as a racially
charged lynching. While ag Mohamed's killing is not linked
to the ongoing hostage crisis involving Ibrahim Bahanga in
northern Mali, the murder by southern Malian soldiers of an
ex-Tuareg rebel who had successfully integrated into the
Malian armed forces does not help matters. To defuse some of
the tension, Minister of Security Sadio Gassama traveled to
Gao to personally attend ag Mohamed's funeral. Ag Mohamed
was also awarded a posthumous promotion.
McCulley

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