Regional Mali official Abu Sidibe claimed today that Boko Haram fighters are operating inside Tuareg-held northern Mali, which the rebels call Azawad. Sidibe claimed there are “a good 100 Boko Haram fighters in Gao” alone.
Malian junta security official backed up the local official, saying Boko Haram was “in a majority among those who attacked the Algerian consulate” in Gao. Seven Algerian diplomats were captured in the siege.
The north has been conquered by Tuareg secessionists, and it is unclear what interest Boko Haram would have in either them or in attacking the Algerian consulate. An al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) splinter group, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) claimed credit for the attack, and said it was holding the hostages.
Mali officials have been keen to try to spin the Tuareg secessionist movement as an international problem, and not simply a domestic one. The African Union has rejected Azawad’s secession, saying that the 1884 European maps of African colonies never granted the Tuaregs a region.