Clashes in N. Mali Kill 20

Posted June 27th, 2012 at 2:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Witnesses in northern Mali say clashes between Islamist militants and Tuareg rebels Wednesday killed at least 20 people.

A VOA reporter said the al-Qaida-linked MUJAO militant group was able to seize control of Gao from the separatist group MNLA. There were exchanges of heavy weapons fire throughout the day. After the fighting, he said militants reportedly looted buildings that had been under MNLA control.

The MNLA and the Islamist militant group Ansar Dine seized control of northern Mali earlier this year. In recent weeks, however, fighting has broken out between Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants.

In the capital, Bamako, northern refugees protested for a second straight day outside the prime minister's office calling for government intervention in the north.

Hundreds gathered for a sit-in, chanting “Free the North” and “Send the army to the North.”

The Malian army is struggling to reorganize after a coup earlier this year.

Since then, an interim government has taken control, but its future is unclear as interim leaders work to organize new elections.