An armed Malian insurgent group that was first to report to officials about the Air Algerie flight AH5017 crash site has offered help with securing site in northern Mali, according to Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra.
Officials believe AH5017 came down because of poor weather, but they have not ruled out that it was deliberately taken down. Controllers lost contact with AH5017 shortly after the pilot radioed a request to change course because of bad weather.
Lamamra said the rebel group “pledged to deploy all rescue efforts and maintain security on the site.”
Cooperation on the part of the Malian rebels arrived as representatives from six rebels groups and the Malian government came to an agreement to end hostilities in peace talks hosted by Algeria. Groups of ethnic Taureg and Arab fighters have been fighting for more autonomy in northern Mali and now control up to two thirds of Malian territory, according to Algerian officials.
Rebels have fought French-backed Malian troops since last year. Ironically it was French military aircraft that officially confirmed the crash site and since a sizeable French military contingent has been stationed in Mali since fighting broke out, French troops and investigators are already at the site.
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All 116 people on board AH5017 were killed when it crashed in a remote area of eastern Mali during its flight from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers in Algeria. Nearly half of those people on board were French, and the French government has been directly involved with search, recovery and investigatory efforts.