A MUJAO military vehicle in the streets of Gao.
In what was a violent end to a three-month power-sharing arrangement, Mali’s radical Islamists have driven their former allies, Tuareg-led separatist group MNLA, out of the country’s northern city of Gao. Although communication in and out of the area is increasingly difficult, our Observer on the ground tells us that the Islamists have not only won a military victory but also the support of the people.
Photo of protests in Gao on June 26.
Flanked by members of the Islamist Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO, an al Qaeda offshoot with close ties to Mali’s Islamist group Ansar Dine), the protestors marched to the MNLA’s headquarters in Gao, where they were greeted by gunfire. Fighting broke out between the two factions, ultimately ending with the MNLA’s retreat on Wednesday.
The body of an MNLA fighter killed in clashes on Wednesday, June 27.
Tensions in the region have steadily grown since the MNLA, Ansar Dine and several other radical groups seized the northern half of the country after taking control of the region’s major towns, Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal on March 31. In the months that followed, each group moved to boost their influence in the area, vying against each other for the upper hand. However, it looks as though what first began as a war of words
has since escalated to armed clashes.
Front gates of the home of a member of the MNLA, which were attacked by Islamists on Wednesday, June 27.
Photos posted on the Facebook group "Journal d'information Gao à la une" by residents of Gao.