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Dec 6, 2012 | 19:56 GMT

Malian Military Officer Attacked in Niger

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Malian Military Officer Attacked in Niger

Elhadji Ag Gamou, a Malian army colonel and militia commander formerly in charge of the country's Kidal garrison until he and his forces were forced by Tuareg rebels to withdraw in early 2012, was targeted Dec. 2 in a drive-by shooting in the Nigerien capital of Niamey. Gamou told foreign media outlets the next day that he was fired at three times by a Nigerien man on a motorcycle while exiting a residence in the city and that his bodyguard was wounded in the attack. Police later captured the suspect, but no information has been released about his motive or possible connections. As a longtime militia commander, Gamou almost certainly has numerous enemies who would want him killed. However, if the attack was a legitimate assassination attempt, its timing makes the al Qaeda franchise or its Islamist allies the most likely culprits. The attempt on Gamou's life comes amid political and military planning for a foreign-backed intervention force aimed at restoring the Malian government's territorial control over the country's northern Azawad region. Gamou's militia has extensive knowledge of local conditions and combat experience against Tuareg Islamist fighters, and it could pose a serious threat to the Islamist militant movement in northern Mali if it joined up with the foreign forces that are planning an intervention. The assassination attempt was likely intended to remove Gamou as a potential asset for any intervention force.

Malian Military Officer Attacked in Niger
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