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 men were arrested during a police raid which saw 24 individuals arrested earlier this month after they were accused of plotting to take over St Mark’s Square in Venice.
The Customs Union, led by Russia, already has Belarus and Kazakhstan as official members. Armenia looks set to also sgn up while Kyrgyzstan has also shown interest.
Its presence was noteworthy as the United States and Iran have been at loggerheads for decades and Iran is subject to certain economic sanctions.
Kazakhstan and Ukraine both agreed to become non-nuclear states in return for the recognition of their independence by Russia and the West following the fall of the Soviet Union.
Murtala Nyako, the governor of Adamawa State, claimed that most of the violence in the northeast region is being committed by "militias" and soldiers engaged by the central government, not by Boko Haram militants.
Sacred Family Foundation is enjoying a popularity boost due to Berlusconi's future community service.
Another strong earthquake hits Solomon islands in the Pacific Ocean.
East Turkestan, otherwise known as China's Xinjiang province, has seen increasing crackdowns on its native Uighur Muslim community as of late.
Ukraine's government, short of effective forces, has shown little sign of trying to recapture the dozen or so town halls, police stations and other sites seized over the past two weeks, despite proclaiming the launch of an "anti-terrorist operation".
Speaking at a press conference in western Cairo on Saturday, Mortada Mansour said that he would throw his weight behind former army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi's bid to run for Egypt's president.
Former head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Mustafa Jemilev, who is now a Ukrainian lawmaker based in Kiev, feared that he would not be allowed to enter Crimea after Russia produced a blacklist of individuals barred from the peninsula.
The Interior Ministry said on its Twitter account the explosion was in the village of al-Maqshaa', along the Budayya highway, outside of the capital Manama.
The violence was triggered by a dispute between two motorists – a Muslim and a Christian – over who should pass first in Al-Khusus, a city within the northern Qalioubiya province.
"The government [of North Sudan] has a lot of blood on its hands," Jehanne Henry, HRW's representative in South and North Sudan said.
James Mitchell, a retired air force psychologist, was the mastermind behind the program which used methods amounting to torture to extract information from suspected terrorists, including water-boarding, stress positions and sleep deprivation.
Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who attended a ceremony on Yonaguni island to mark the start of construction, suggested the military presence could be enlarged to other islands in the seas southwest of Japan's main islands.