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.
Ahead of a visit to Washington by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday to meet his American counterpart, his ministry said three Rafale fighter jets and an anti-aircraft warship would be sent to the Gulf to support Iraqi government forces against ISIL.
The Taliban claimed responsibility and its reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, called the recent election a "publicity stunt".
A stock exchange official said the package was discovered mid-morning at the building's entrance but did not affect the trading session, which continued without interruption.
A cyberattack by extremist Buddhists is the latest in series in response to Irrawaddy’s coverage of religious violence.
By omitting Arab names from the list, Israel's Population, Immigration and Border Authority hid the fact that the most popular boy's name in Israel for that year was actually Mohammed.
Paying little attention to the sliding fortunes of Russia's weakening economy, Russian president Vladimir Putin listed Russia's budget triumphs and the growth rates in the industrial and agricultural sectors.
Heavy clashes between ISIL and Kurdish YPG fighters had been continuing on Kobani's eastern and southeastern outskirts for the last 36 hours.
Reformist members demand the resignation of executive office members, the elimination of what they call "crisis elements" and the amendment of the group's internal bylaws.
The three Gulf States collectively pulled their ambassadors from Qatar in March, claiming Doha had violated a 2013 security pact and interfered in their domestic affairs.
Juan del Granado, candidate for Movement Without Fear (MSM) denounced the issue as “very serious” and demanded that the names be immediately withdrawn from the register.
The Iraqi army needs more weapons, said Iraqi foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
Greenland is a self-ruling country within the Kingdom of Denmark and has a population of about 56,000 people.
A large explosion was followed by a series of smaller blasts in a part of the privately-run plant where mines were dismantled in the village of Gorni Lom.
The apology to the Sarayaku community came two years after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that the OPEC nation had violated the tribe's right to be consulted.
The resolution calls for "the full withdrawal of Israel from all of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, by November 2016.
A longer-range capability would be bound to concern its sworn enemies, Japan and the United States whom it regularly threatens with nuclear strikes.