Mali’s military junta frees two leaders and several Islamic State militants in exchange for a truce

Mali's military junta frees two leaders and several Islamic State militants in exchange for a truce


The military authorities that govern Mali have released in recent days two leaders of the Islamic State in the Sahel and several militants of the jihadist group in order to obtain a truce in exchange, according to Malian diplomatic and security sources quoted by the radio station RFI.

Among those released are Umeya Ould Albakaye and Dadi Ould Cheghub. The first was detained by the French forces of Operation Barkhane in June 2022 and handed over to the Malian authorities. He was the leader of the Islamic State branch in the Sahel for the regions of Gurma (Mali) and Udalan (Burkina Faso) and his name is even being considered as successor to the emir of the group, Adnan Abu Walid al Saharawi, who died in a French military operation.

The second leader to be released is Dadi Ould Cheghoub, better known as ‘Abu Dardar’, also arrested by French troops in June 2021. ‘Abu Dardar’ was already released in exchange for the hostages Sophie Pétronin and Soumaïla Cissé in October 2020.

In exchange for these releases, the jihadists would have agreed to release Malian hostages and respect a truce that would allow elections to be held in areas controlled by the Islamic State, mainly in Ménaka.

With it, it will be possible to relocate the military forces in the northeast of Mali after the departure of the country from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in the framework of its withdrawal from the country at the request of the authorities. French troops have also left the country.

RFI sources have warned that this truce could facilitate an agreement between the Islamic State and the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM), an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Mali. In particular, the Tuareg militias, signatories of the 2015 Peace Agreement and the front line in the fight against the jihadists, have expressed their concern.

Mali and the rest of the countries of the Sahel have experienced an upsurge in violence, both from groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, as well as inter-community.

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Written by Editor TLN

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