World Bulletin / News Desk
Islamist fighters declared on Thursday they had secured full control of Mali's desert north, a day after pushing their former Tuareg MNLA separatist allies out of the town of Gao in a gun battle that killed at least 20 people.
The local Ansar Dine group had already gained the upper hand in the northern town of Kidal and the ancient trading post of Timbuktu after government forces were routed in an April rebel advance.
"Our men control all three of the towns in northern Mali," Oumar Ould Hamaha, a Timbuktu-based Ansar Dine official said of the mostly desert territory which is larger than France.
"They (the MNLA) all ran away, we decided not to pursue them. ... All I can tell you is that they are not even in the outskirts the city," Hamaha said of the battle in Gao.
The separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad - the northern territory it claims as an independent state - said its forces beat a tactical retreat in Gao on Wednesday and rejected suggestions they had lost the battle.
"Right now some MNLA units, stationed at the borders of Azawad, are coming back to completely rid the city of Gao of Islamist groups that are terrorising the population," MNLA spokesman Mossa Ag Attaher said in a written statement.
The battle was a culmination of weeks of tension between the MNLA and local Islamists who had helped it take control of northern Mali after government forces were left without a command following a March 22 coup.
The two factions had an uneasy power sharing arrangement after seizing control of the territory.
A Timbuktu resident said on Thursday that MNLA fighters who had been stationed at the city's airport and port had now even abandoned those positions.
Ansar Dine's Hamaha said more than 22 MNLA fighters including a top colonel had been killed during the Gao battle, while three of their fighters had died in combat.
He added that MNLA leader Bilal Ag Acherif had been injured and evacuated to neighbouring Burkina Faso. MNLA's Attaher declined to confirm the identities or number of casualties but a Burkinabe security source confirmed he had been injured.
"He was injured in a mortar attack and was bleeding a lot from the ear, but we managed to stop the bleeding," he said.
The Israeli military said that a Gaza ceasefire that went into effect earlier on Friday is now over and military operations were in progress on the ground just after tanks opened fire in the southern Gaza Strip killing 40
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham, said Iran repudiates any act of extremism and violence, after Chinese authorities said a police station and a township in Yarkand (Shache County).
The announcement comes after Israel bombed Gaza's only power plant, forcing a continued power outage across the embattled Gaza Strip.
Warring neighbours Armenia and Azerbaijan see heightened tensions amid a border dispute.
Nicolay Koblyakov was held for 72 hours after being detained at Sofia airport on Tuesday following an extradition request from Russia
Dr. Mordechai Kedar said the only thing that can deter Palestinian fighters was if they knew their mothers and sisters would be raped.
Holder will argue that two people who commit the same crime should not serve unequal time based on those factors alone.
Japan's already fragile ties with China have soured over their competing claims to a string of uninhabited East China Sea islets
The plaintiffs, all immigrants who are either practicing Muslims or are from predominantly Muslim nations, complain their immigration or naturalization petitions were illegally thwarted
John Tefft will go to Moscow as U.S.-Russia ties are severely strained over Washington's sanctions on Russia due to its support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Military officials said a paratrooper unit had come under mortar and tank fire near the town of Shakhtarsk
Thousands flocked to beaches to celebrate Eid al-Fitr despite meteorological warnings.
The requested military supplies include tanks, sniper equipment, armored personnel carriers, artillery and ammunition, and also body armor, helmets, fuel trucks and ambulances.
Kenya's President Kenyatta said they would discuss the funding issue with American investors on the sidelines of the US-African leaders summit next week.
Over 13 lives were lost and properties were also destroyed.
"Gen. Haftar has not left Libya and is currently preparing for a major military operation in Benghazi," his spokesman Mohamed al-Hegazi said.