At least five radio stations attacked in Mali

At least five radio stations were attacked in March 2012 as Tuareg separatists, allied with extremist Islamist militants, pushed the Malian army back from the northeastern region of Gao, according to news reports.

The Malian army occupied Radio Adar Ansongo in the town of Ansongo in March 2012, turning the station into a temporary military position, according to news reports. After the army retreated later that month, militants of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) occupied the station, news reports said.

MNLA fighters seized Gao, the regional capital, on March 31, 2012, and ransacked the local offices of the Malian national public broadcaster ORTM, according to local journalists. The same day, hardline Islamist militants of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), which is affiliated with the MNLA, seized La Voix des Jeunes, a youth-oriented radio station in Gao, and renamed the station Radio Askia Mohammed Islamiya, news reports said. The militants restricted the station’s programming to Islamic-oriented content, according to the same sources.

Also in late March 2012, rebels ransacked Radio Rurale de Manaka, in the town of Ménaka, and Radio Doddya, in the town of Andéramboukane, local journalists and news reports said.