Niger’s military regime on Wednesday congratulated the Malian junta on the “liberation of Kidal” the previous day, a strategic town that had been under the control of predominantly Tuareg separatists.
“This martyred town had remained under the grip of terrorists and their sponsors, who are responsible for destabilising Mali and the Sahel as a whole,” said Colonel Major Abdramane Amadou, a member of Niger’s National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP).
He said the army’s victory represents a turning point in the commitment of the Malian authorities to “liberate the entire country”.
Neighbouring Burkina Faso also welcomed the news, calling it a “pivotal” moment in the fight against armed groups in the Sahel region.
The capture of Kidal is a significant symbolic success for Mali’s military leaders, who seized power in 2020. It has long posed a major sovereignty issue for the junta.
The army and the state have for years been virtually absent from the town, which has been controlled by the predominantly Tuareg armed groups.
“Today, our armed and security forces have taken over Kidal. Our mission is not complete,” Mali’s coup leader, President Assimi Goita, said on X on Tuesday.
The junta has said it plans to restore the country’s territorial sovereignty.
However, the rebels who control much of the north of the country, claim they made a strategic decision to leave the town and have vowed to keep on fighting.
The authorities did not release any images following the recapture of Kidal, a historic centre of independence insurgencies and a crossroads on the road to Algeria.
Violence has escalated in the region since August, with the military, rebels, and jihadists vying for control as the UN stabilisation mission, MINUSMA, prepares to leave the country.