Looters Target Arab, Algerian-Owned Shops in Timbuktu

French Occupation of Ancient City Prompts Revenge Attacks

by Jason Ditz, January 29, 2013

The French occupation of Timbuktu has prompted an ugly round of race-based looting in the ancient city today, with hundreds of Malians attacking shops across the city, looting those they believe were owned by “Arabs” or “Algerians.”

Traditionally the melting-pot where the ethnicities from southern Mali blend with those from the deserts of northern Mali, Timbuktu is one of the first sites of revenge attacks, with reports of at least one attempted lynching of a northerner by the crowd.

It underscores just how quickly the Western-backed war could turn into race-based revenge killings, with multiple reports of the southern junta’s troops openly persecuting the lighter-skinned residents, suspecting them of being secretly loyal to the northern rebels.

Junta troops have promised “heavy patrols” in the city to minimize the looting, but also claimed that “weapons and communications equipment” had been found in at least one of the looted stores.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz