Suspected Rebel Backers Beaten in Mali’s Gao

Detentions Reported as Pro-Regime 'Youth Militia' Hunts 'Suspects'

by Jason Ditz, January 29, 2013

The capture of the eastern Mali city of Gao by the regime after nearly a year in rebel hands has prompted an ugly round of revenge attacks, with reports of beatings in the streets of people who were believed to have been supporters of the Islamist rebels.

Mali troops hauled off truckloads of bound detainees, while a youth militia calling itself the Gao Patrolmen forced their way into homes hunting for people who might be sympathetic to the rebel cause.

Though the fighters in Gao virtually all fled in the face of French air strikes, but the locals who stayed through the rebel occupation and remained for the regime’s reoccupation are finding themselves suspect, particularly those who are from ethnicities seen by the junta as pro-rebel.

Revenge attacks have become a growing problem as the regime has retaken central cities on the Niger River, with reports of mass looting in Timbuktu and even attempted lynchings.

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