Al Qaeda-linked Islamists threaten to hit Mali election

AFP , Sunday 28 Jul 2013

Mali based Islamist group Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) threaten to attack polling stations in the upcoming election on Sunday, warning Muslims to 'stay away from polls'

One of the main Islamist armed groups in northern Mali said Saturday it would "strike" polling stations during Mali's presidential election on Sunday.

"The polling stations and other voting places for what they are calling the elections will be targeted by mujahideen strikes," the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) said in a statement put out by the Mauritanian ANI news agency.

It did not specify what form the attacks would take.

The group warned against Malian Muslims taking part in the election, telling them to "stay away from the polls".

MUJAO, which has links with Al-Qaeda, said in the statement that government departments, army barracks and Malian police would also be targeted.

It criticised the French intervention in Mali in January which it said was "against the implementation of sharia (Islamic law) in Mali" and accused Paris of "doing nothing to free hostages" held by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in the Sahel region.

MUJAO was one of a number of Islamist groups that occupied northern Mali for several months last year before they were ousted by a French-led military intervention.

Mali's presidential election is seen as crucial to restoring constitutional order after a coup in March last year that precipitated the occupation.

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