Tuaregs, Islamists clash in northern Mali

2012-06-27 16:50
Bamako - Malian Tuareg and Islamist rebels clashed in the northern town of Gao on Wednesday, witnesses told AFP.

"It is happening not far from the governorate, fighters from the two movements are firing at each other with heavy weapons," said the owner of a petrol station next to the governor's offices.

The fighters were the Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and members of the al-Qaeda offshoot Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO)

"We can hear gunfire, the fighters from MUJAO and the MNLA are shooting at each other," said Nina Oumarou, the sister of an official who was killed by armed men on Monday night.

She said a group of MUJAO fighters had moved towards the MNLA camp in the town, which was seized by the various rebel groups in late March after a coup d’état in Bamako.

The clashes followed violent protests on Tuesday by residents angry over the death of municipal councillor Idrissa Oumarou, who belongs to the party of Mali's transitional president Dioncounda Traore.

Armed men fired on the crowd, leaving at least one dead and a dozen injured.

Witnesses accused the MNLA of the shooting, which the Tuareg movement denied, saying it was "manipulation" on the part of MUJAO.

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