“we don’t have the smallest thing here, we have to shop on the Malian side”

The Algerian gendarmerie and border guards clashed with the residents of Tinzaout, a town on the border of Mali, on June 15, after they began destroying a barbed wall separating them from a wadi, a valuable source of water in this area of ​​Sahara. At least three protesters were injured and a death among Tuareg villagers. The latter, angry, condemns a neglect by the Algerian authorities.It is a long security wall decorated with barbed wire, placed by the Algerian army in early May between the city and the administrative boundaries separating Algeria and Mali. It aims to counter the smuggling of smuggled goods, on the one hand, and to strengthen the porous border between Algeria and Mali, exposed to jihadist groups in particular Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi).

But this wall also prevents the residents of the Tinzaout from accessing the wadi bordering the Algerian border, explains to our editors Abidine Badi, a Tuareg activist from this place, who currently resides in the Tamanrasset, the capital of Wilaya of the same name:

This huge wall of barges is located very close to the homes, sometimes less than twenty meters away. It robs the villagers of the pasture around the meadow, which is their main source of food. Residents need access to water from the ridge that passes behind the security wall, as it is only filled during July and August each year. The fence also prevents them from joining the wells that lie along the strip between the wall and the Malian border.

This visual produced by the Algerian journalist Akram Kharief from geolocation data shows the location of wadi and wells, the only water sources for Tinzaoute’s population.

Very quickly on June 15, the demonstration triggered intervention by border guards and the rebel police. The gendarmes then fired preventive bullets to disperse the crowd. However, according to videos shared on social networks and testimony from several residents, several people were injured by live ammunition and a 17-year-old boy died.

In this video, filmed on June 15, we hear the shots fired by the Border Guard, which came to spread the audience.
Protesters picked up shells and proved that the Algerian Border Guard used live ammunition. Others were taken care of and injured.

Shot from the Malian side?

The Algerian Ministry of Defense denied in a communicated his responsibility for the murder, accused “unknown shots” of coming from the Malian side, exactly from Ikhraben, in the direction of the border guards, and who touched the victim.

On the same day, the Ministry of Defense announced an investigation into the circumstances of the violence. No statement from the Malian authorities has yet been issued.

Pending the results of the investigation, several journalists analyzed the direction of the shots, according to the official version, using geolocation and key elements found on the dozens of video clips sent by the residents. Their research does not really confirm the official version, but does prove the use of live ammunition and the probable origin (from the south) of the bullet that killed the teenager.

According to geographical location of the Algerian journalist Akram Kharief, carried out using key elements in the videos shared on social networks, the shot that killed Ayoub would have come from the south compared to his position.

In the images analyzed by journalist Benjamin Strick you can see on the right the tag installation, dismantled by the protesters.

Algeria’s army statement says the teen shot dead “was immediately taken to emergency room”, while videos show bodies lying on the ground next to gendarmes and border guards who exchanged information insults with the municipality’s protesters.

“Young Ayoub stayed on the ground for half an hour without being able to approach him. It was only after the exchanges had calmed relative to the fighters transporting him to a military hospital,” said Abidine Badi, who spoke with witnesses to the scene.

In these videos filmed on June 15, we see the body of the teenager of 17 yearsyears on the ground, while the border guards exchange insults with the protesters. “It’s been 15minutes that it fell! “comments on the author of the video.” Take the boy! “another protester shouts to the sexes. The bullets are heard at the end of the video.

It was only after the border guards left that the protesters could regain the body of the teenagers. We see them cover his face with a cloth, a sign that he is dead.

He carries on:

In summer it can be over 50 ° here. The natural environment is already hostile, and in addition, the region has been neglected for several years despite the many letters from local associations directed to Wali[waliärguvernöreniTamanrassettillvilkasocialaaktörer[lewaliestlegouverneurdeTamanrassetauqueldesacteurssociaux[waliärguvernöreniTamanrassettillvilkasocialaaktörer[lewaliestlegouverneurdeTamanrassetauqueldesacteurssociaux asked on June 11, to raise the barrier, explain the difficulties that its establishment represents, editor’s note].

Developments that no longer depend on Malian structuresThe Tinzaout is desert, we do not have the minimum to live decent, that is why we ask the borders to be opened to the residents on both sides: there are virtually no significant facilities in this zone. To go to the hospital in Algeria, you have to travel 500 km to reach the capital of the Tamanrass, the journey takes a day! Of course, ambulances do not go that far. This means that if you are very ill you can, for example, die on the road.

There has been talk of establishing a route between the Tamanrasset and the Tinzaout since 1999, but this project has not yet seen the light of day. The inhabitants must therefore continue shopping on the Malian side, much closer.

Tinzaout has 4,157 inhabitants. It shares the same name as its Malian twin town, Tin Zaouatine, which has more than 10,000. The cities were separated when the borders were drawn during the French occupation, which resulted in many Tuareg families and tribes found separated between Mali and Algeria by border closures in 2013 to fight jihadist terrorism, present in this area.

Tuaregna does not believe in borders, it is one of the principles of the Community, be it in Libya, Chad, Mali or Algeria. We simply assert our right to move freely without violating the essential security measures. We understand the need to monitor and secure the borders, but reject this tag wall. We also claim development in our region so that we are no longer dependent on Malian structures.

On April 16, a Meeting with remarks on the municipality took place at the site of Wilaya in the Tamanrasset, during which the claims of the residents of the Tinzaout were heard, including the construction of dispensaries and the introduction of premises in decision-making.

The tribe’s remarkable Ankouf Mooro was part of the local delegation that moved to the Wilaya headquarters in Tamanrasset the day after the confrontation. Many residents of Tuareg express their concern that they must be separated from their families, on the other side of the Algerian border.

According to the National Agency Algeria Press Service, after these interviews, it was decided that the barbed wire would be replaced by a 5-door separation wall to allow nomads to cross the border under the supervision of border guards.