Malians hold sit-in to protest against Islamists | Pakistan Today

Malians hold sit-in to protest against Islamists

Protesters from northern Mali on Wednesday held a sit-in in Bamako against Islamists who have enforced strict sharia, destroyed ancient shrines and trapped residents with landmines in their region.
Some 2,000 people gathered in the pouring rain at the Independence Square monument in Bamako chanting: “We want weapons to liberate the north.”
“All together for the liberation of our country,” read one banner. Another complained that “the north of our country has been abandoned by our leaders who have other concerns.”
“If the army doesn’t want to go to war, then give us the means to liberate our territory!” said Oumar Maiga, a leader of a collective of citizens of the north.
Tuareg lawmaker Nock Ag Attia said the tribes present in the north, the Tuareg, Fulani, Songhai, did not “share the foolishness” of the Tuareg rebels and Al Qaeda-linked Islamists.
The protest came as the international community mulled options to help Mali’s embattled interim government in Bamako save its north from the armed Islamists.
The presence of the rebel Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith), which is openly allied with Al-Qaeda’s north African franchise, has sparked concern that the vast desert region may become a new haven for terrorism.
Mali is currently being ruled by a 12-month interim government set up after a March 22 coup and which has proved powerless to deal with the partition of the country since the Islamists and Tuareg rebels captured key northern cities.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc will hold a mini-summit in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou on Saturday to discuss the formation of a unity government that could request military intervention from its neighbours.

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