French Claim Central Mali City Retaken, But Is Insurgency Growing?

Canoe-Based Ambush, Suicide Bombs Show Rebel Transition

by Jason Ditz, February 11, 2013

Mali junta forces conducted house-to-house raids in the central city of Gao, with officials claiming that the entire city was now effectively back under control of French and Malian forces after a weekend of violence.

This is hardly an “all’s well that ends well” moment for Gao, however, after a pair of suicide bombings and an ambush of junta troops by a squad of rebels who snuck into town in canoes suggest a shifting rebel strategy.

When this was a civil war, northern rebels were more than capable of fighting junta forces on even footing, but since the French invasion and the constant air strikes they brought with them, they are shifting to a formal insurgency strategy.

Since the rebel leadership remains mostly intact in the wake of the French invasion, and northern Mali is full of desert caves from which to operate, this is an insurgency that could remain extremely difficult to unseat from the area militarily.

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