Ménaka (Berber: ⵎⵏⴾⴰ) is a town and urban commune in Ménaka Cercle and Ménaka Region in eastern Mali. It is the seat and the largest town in the cercle and region. The town is set amidst the rocky outcrops of the Ader Douchi hills, and is served by Ménaka Airport.
Commune and town
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The Ménaka area was a center of Ag El Insar Firhoun's Malian rising of larger 1916 Tuareg Rebellion, and was a government garrison town in the 1961–1964, 1990–1995, and the 2007–2009 Tuareg Rebellions. Most recently, Ménaka was put under siege and the military post sacked by former rebels who had been integrated into the Malian Army in a short term rising in May–July 2006. The current May 23, 2006 Democratic Alliance for Change rebel group dates from this siege.
On 17 January 2012, Ménaka was captured by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a Tuareg rebel group. On 19 November they lost their control to the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
On 25 November 2009, a French citizen named Pierre Camatte was taken hostage from a hotel in Ménaka city. A January 2010 statement issued by the AQIM, the north African branch of al-Qaeda, set an ultimatum of 20 days for the exchange of four al-Qaeda members for Pierre Camatte, after which, it said the French and Malian governments "will be fully responsible for the French hostage's life". Camatte was freed 6 weeks later following a prisoner swap deal in which the four Islamists were released.
Malian and international Human Rights organisations pointed to Ménaka in 2008, as one of several towns in the Gao Region in which informal slavery relations persist between noble caste Tuareg pastoralists and thousands of sedentary low caste Bellah Tuareg.
- Resultats Provisoires RGPH 2009 (Région de Gao) (PDF) (in French), République de Mali: Institut National de la Statistique.
- MALI: Armed men seize three military bases in remote north. 23 May 2006 (IRIN).
- "Strife in the Sahel: A perfect desert storm". The Economist. 17 March 2012.
- Frenchman Pierre Camatte kidnapped in Mali. 11 January 2010. BBC News.
- "Freed French hostage speaks of al-Qaeda ordeal in Mali". BBC. 25 February 2010.
- Mali: Thousands Still Live in Slavery in North. IRIN (United Nations). 14 July 2008.
- Plan de Sécurite Alimentaire Commune de Ménaka 2005-2009 (PDF) (in French), Commissariat à la Sécurité Alimentaire, République du Mali, USAID-Mali, 2005, archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-22.