World Bulletin / News Desk
Fighters seized control of the headquarters of the local separatist rebels in the north Mali town of Gao on Wednesday after a bloody battle that killed at least 20, residents said.
The battle follows weeks of tension between the separatist Tuareg-led MNLA and better-armed local Islamists who helped it take control of the northern two-thirds of Mali in April.
"The Islamists are now controlling the situation because they are the only ones driving around in the town, some in their vehicles and others on vehicles they have recovered from the MNLA," Gao resident Moktar Toure told Reuters by telephone.
"But we live in fear of an MNLA counter-offensive against the Islamists even though they are trying to reassure people that it is over," Toure said.
A spokesman of the Islamist Ansar Dine group said their fighter had taken control of the governor's residence and chased away MNLA fighters.
One witness told Reuters earlier on Wednesday that the former governor's residence in Gao which the MNLA had turned into the "palace" of the northern territory it calls the independent state of Azawad, had been heavily damaged by heavy arms fire during the battle.
"The MNLA and MUJWA are launching rockets at each other between the two markets of the town and the governor's building," Gao resident Sila Askou said by telephone of the governor's premises in which the MNLA has set up headquarters.
Gao resident Habsatou Cisse said by telephone she saw five bodies from the house in which she was sheltering. Others reported 11 bodies and four bodies in separate locations. They said civilians were among those killed but had no other details.
Separately, residents in the northern town of Timbuktu 300 km (200 miles) to the west, said they had seen armed convoys of the local Ansar Dine Islamist group - a MUJWA ally - racing to Gao.
"We are going to obliterate the MNLA today," local Islamist Ousmane Toure said by telephone. "Enough is enough."
Malick Aliou Maiga, another resident contacted by telephone, said the MNLA headquarters had been badly damaged in the battle, which started around mid-morning.
MNLA spokesmen based in Mali and in Europe were not immediately contactable for comment but one member of the group, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the attack on the headquarters had been repelled.
"Either the MUJWA backs off or we are heading towards an all-out armed confrontation," said the MNLA member.
New Unified Combatant Command 'will strengthen our cyberspace operations'
Opposition lawmakers refuse to attend session announcing decree
The 15 council members held the commemoration at the start of a session dedicated to the crisis in Yemen.
Catalonia police spokesman Josep Lluis Trapero added that a driver who mowed down crowds of pedestrians in the first attack in a busy Barcelona street Thursday could be among five suspects later shot dead in a nearby city.
Massoud Barzani, General Joseph Leonard Fotel discuss fight against ISIL, planned referendum on region’s independence
Sergey Lavrov, Sigmar Gabriel say there is 'no alternative' to political, diplomatic solutions
UN agency says civilians in South Sudan keep flocking to Ethiopia as fight between government forces, rebels continues
Around 1,000 migrants, refugees to be moved to 18 sites across Ile-de-France region
Victim's name will not be released until family is informed, says Turkey's embassy in Madrid
For his part, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told RTL radio that "the number of those who have been seriously injured may perhaps be even higher at around 17."
New York Police Department officials said the force would hold a press conference but declined to provide scheduling details.
Death toll feared to rise due to severe conditions of the many injured
The pickup truck, which had an improvised white wooden trailer constructed over the back, was transporting them in "overcrowded and unsanitary conditions," said a state police report seen by AFP.
At least 13 people were killed and more than 50 injured when a driver deliberately slammed his vehicle into crowds on Barcelona's most popular street -- Las Ramblas -- in what police qualified as a "terror attack."
The van attack that mowed down pedestrians on Barcelona's most famous street on Thursday killing at least 13 people was the latest fatal assault on a European city.
The agreement to open the market potentially worth $10 million a year came after US Vice President Mike Pence met this week with Argentina's president Mauricio Macri.