North Mali with the "NMLA" fighters
The photographer Fehrat Bouda managed to cross the Algerian border to follow a group of Tuareg rebels and spend time with them in their heartland: the district of Kidal in North Mali.
Exceptionally, he was able to share their daily life and organization of the independence movement "NMLA" (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad): from the training of the new recruits, to the securing of their positions and, for the first time in the history of the movement: he was able to follow them while they were regaining the control of several small towns and villages (Kidal, In Khalil, Tessalit etc.).
The Tuareg rebels are controlling this area since the withdrawal in February 2013 of the Islamists groups Ansar Dine and Mujao. But still the region remains extremely dangerous. Kidal is in a real state of tension and calm is not likely to be restored before a while. On Saturday July 20th, as the first round of the Malian presidential election was being prepared, six people were kidnapped in Tessalit, a town 200 kilometres away from Kidal and under “NMLA”.controlled by the
In this tense climate, in connection with the elections of the next 28 July, the Tuareg rebel movement is trying to maintain its position in the region of Azawad, which they have claimed in vain for half a century.
The “NMLA” is actively recruiting to prevent the continuous Islamists' attacks: suicide bombing in the cities and ambush in the desert. The Tuareg rebellion movement is also opposed to the soldiers of the regular army who’s aim is to take control of the north of the country, despite an agreement signed on 18 June in Ouagadougou between the Tuareg rebels and the Malian army, and supposed to guarantee the security in the town of Kidal, during the elections.
For the first time in the history of the Tuareg rebellion, women have decided to take up arms. In the Tuareg society, women benefit from an unequalled status: holders of knowledge and wealth, they are the guardians of traditions. Therefore, their recent participation in the military conflict is a sign of a new evolution of the rebellion.
Pictures by Ferhat Bouda / VU distribution
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