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After Mali, Algeria says it captured ISIL operatives
November 21, 2015, 10:01 am

French and Malian Special Forces rescued hostages at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali a day before Algeria announced it had captured ISIL militants [Xinhua]

French and Malian Special Forces rescued hostages at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali a day before Algeria announced it had captured ISIL militants [Xinhua]

Algerian security forces, which have been on high alert since the Paris terrorist attacks last week, say they have captured three militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS).

Anti-terrorism squads captured the men in the south of the country near the borders with Niger and Mali.

The men were raising funds and recruiting young men to join ISIL and a local terror group called Jund Al Khilafa, also associated with the Islamic State.

The announcement comes less than a day after the Mourabitoun Islamist extremist group, who pledged allegiance to ISIL in May of this year, seized the Radisson Blu hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako killing and injuring dozens.

More than 100 other hostages, many of them foreigners, including 20 Indians, were rescued by French and Malian forces on Friday night.

The death toll now stands at 29, according to the UN peacekeepers who searched the hotel after the siege ended.

Late on Friday, the United Nations Security Council passed a French resolution calling on the world community to take “all necessary measures” to combat ISIL, which is described in the text as “constituting a global and unprecedented threat to international peace”.

Recent violence, and ISIL penetration, in post-Qaddafi Libya has lead to instability in some regions in Sub-Saharan Africa, creating vacuums that have been usurped by militias, some of which have ties to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

A group believed to be working under Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) launched an attack on the Amenas gas processing plant in southeastern Algeria, near the Libyan border in January 2013, seizing more than 130 hostages, many of whom were foreigners.

This led to a standoff which ended only after Algerian Special Forces stormed the plant and killed many of the captors. An unknown number of hostages were also killed.

Deadly zone

Islamist extremists say the attacks in Bamako were in retaliation for military operations launched by Malian and French forces in the north of the country along the Algerian and Niger borders.

France sent troops to its former colony in January 2013 at the request of officials in the capital Bamako, and with blessings from the UN Security Council, to battle Islamist rebel groups, who had taken over the country’s desert north nearly a year before.

Mali had descended into chaos in the wake of a March 2012 coup by military officers who were unsatisfied with the way the civilian administration was dealing with a Tuareg rebellion in the north, calling for independence from the state.

The military campaign was halted thereby creating a vacuum, which was quickly filled by the Ansar Dine rebels who pushed back the Tuareg and then imposed a severe strain of Islamic law; they then began to capture towns in their southward push.

French troops had successfully pushed the Islamists out of the territories they occupied, killing hundreds of them in the process. Others fled into the desert and mountains.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies