The city of Gao, the headquarters of the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country, is said to have succumbed to the hands of Islamic groups after several hours of fighting with heavy weapons. The local sources cited by the Malian press suggest that the “powder keg of Gao is ready to explode.”
The Movement for Islamic Jihad in West Africa (Mujao) is said to have bested the fighters from the National Movement for the Liberation dell’Azawad (MNLA, the Tuareg rebellion), some of whom have fled, while others have been killed, though there are no publsihed death tolls for the time being.
After taking control of institutional bodies, Mujao fighters are said to have moved to a military camp run by the MNLA located near Gao. Witnesses interviewed by local newspapers report that a city left deserted and empty streets since most of the inhabitants have taken refuge in their homes.
In recent weeks, the rivalry between the rebels of the MNLA and the Islamist Ansar al-Din had already manifested by sporadic gun battles in other northern cities such as Timbuktu and Kidal. The myriad of armed groups of both Tuareg and Islamist affiliation controlling the conflict in northern Mali is increasingly in conflict over differences in how to control the territory.