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.
Dlamini-Zuma said that the pan-African body would work to accelerate its current efforts to help Liberia, which has been hit hard by the deadly virus
Natives must gain control of titles to stave off deforestation and reduce illegal logging, activists say.
In Brazil's tightest election in decades, the leftist incumbent's aggressive campaign against pro-business senator Neves has succeeded in bolstering her support
Only male worshippers aged 40 and above and women of all ages were allowed into the holy site
France was the first country to join the U.S.-led coalition in air strikes in Iraq
Christos Stylianides, who takes over on Nov. 1 as the EU's commissioner for humanitarian affairs and crisis management, will also be the 28-nation bloc's point man on Ebola.
While the South already has peacetime control of its roughly 639,000 service members, its ally the United States had been set to hand over wartime operational control (OPCON) at the end of next year.
U.S. negotiator Sherman said the United States and the other major powers were prepared to reach an agreement and suggested it would ultimately be seen to be Iran's fault if one did not materialize
The government has in recent months undertaken a huge crackdown on smuggling, including closing the border at night and arresting 1,266 people.
State Councillor Yang Jiechi, who outranks the foreign minister, will arrive in Vietnam on Monday for meetings with Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh
In 2011, Zehaf-Bibeau begged a British Columbia judge to put him in jail, saying he was homeless and wanted to overcome a crack cocaine addiction, according to court records
Iraqi forces also must be trained, armed and ready before major advances, like one to retake the city of Mosul, which fell to the ISIL in June
Spencer is the ninth Ebola case seen in the United States and the first case in America's largest city, setting off renewed fears about the spread of the virus
The warning comes nearly a month after another volcano, Mt Ontake, erupted suddenly when crowded with hikers, killing 57 people in Japan's worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years.
More than 200 troops, stealth ships and helicopters have scoured waters off Stockholm since last Friday after reports of foreign "underwater activity" - suspected to be a Russian sub
The detainee was identified as Irek Hamidullan. He was captured in 2009 and has been held at a detention facility at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan.