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Malian army says resisting Tuareg rebels in Timbuktu

04-02-2012 09:19 BJT

The Malian military on Sunday said the army alongside local Arab militia were resisting against invading Tuareg rebels in the northern town of Timbuktu, amid reports that the rebels had already entered the heritage town.

The military said the army with the support of the Arab militia was facing the rebels launching attacks on the third target since taking Kidal and Gao respectively on Friday and Saturday.

The statement was made amid reports that Tuareg rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) entered Timbuktu on Sunday.

Despite the continued exchange of fire reported by the military, most of the information monitored here indicates a serious situation for Timbuktu.

A number of local witnesses reported to Xinhua that from now on, Timbuktu would be in the hands of the MNLA rebels.

They said the regular army had abandoned Timbuktu to rebels, who entered the town without any fighting. The fall was unlike that of Gao, which was taken by the rebels after a full day of fierce battling.

To make it worse, a Colonel-Major Elhadji Gamou has defected to the MNLA with 500 soldiers. Gamou made the confirmation on a foreign radio on Sunday.

The rebels launched their latest round of uprising in January in pursuit of independence of an Azawad land comprising the three northern regions of Timbuktoo, Gao and Kidal.

The fall of the northern towns proves the biggest gain by the rebels in weeks of advances, after repeated attempts since the 1960s.

The situation has been deteriorating in Mali since a military junta declared takeover from President Amadou Toumani Toure, citing his failure to provide means for the military to curb Tuareg rebels in the north.

Editor:Shi Jierui |Source: Xinhua

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