Hundreds of Malians looted Arab-owned shops Tuesday in Mali’s fabled Timbuktu, newly freed from Islamists, as global donors pledged over $455 million for a French-led drive to rout the radicals from the north.
Life in the ancient desert city freed from Islamist control on Monday started returning to normal as soldiers patrolled its dusty streets, but soon large crowds began pillaging.
They plundered stores they said belonged to Arabs, Mauritanians and Algerians who they accuse of supporting the al Qaeda-linked Islamists during their 10-month rule over the ancient centre of learning.
The looters took everything from arms and military communications equipment to televisions, food and furniture, emptying shops in minutes.
In the suburb of Abaradjou, a man Hillary defends decision to not extradite Headley living in a former bank converted by the Islamists into a “comittee of promotion of virtue and prevention of vice”, was dragged out by a hysterical crowd who then pillaged the building, taking even office chairs.
The bearded middle-aged man was arrested by Malian troops. “He is an Islamist”, one soldier said, as other troops turned their weapons towards the crowd to prevent them from lynching the man.
The mob yelled: “He is not from here, he is a terrorist!”
Malian soldiers put an end to the looting in the middle of the morning. “We will not let people pillage. But it is true that weapons were found in some shops,” an officer said on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, African leaders and international officials pledged $455 million at a donor conference in Ethiopia for military operations in Mali and humanitarian aid.
“The overall amount pledged here reached $455.53 million,” African Union peace and security commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said.
US drone base
The US military is preparing to set up a drone base in northwest Africa. The move comes so that the US can increase surveillance missions on the local affiliate of al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups that American and other Western officials said pose a growing menace to the region.
For now, officials said that they envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones from the base, though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes if the threat worsened.