Tuareg rebels say they have gained control of Mali’s strategically important town of Timbuktu in the north as the coup leader pledges to bring back order to the country.
The rebels announced in a statement that they have “control of the entire region” of Timbuktu, and have ended what they call the Malian “occupation.”
Tuareg rebels added that they would now begin their “mission of defending and securing the territory of the Azawad, for the happiness of its people.”
The rebels, based in the north of the country, also seized control of the town of Kidal on Friday. Their advance continued on Saturday and they reportedly forced army soldiers out of the main bases in the town of Gao.
On March 22, renegade Malian soldiers led by Amadou Haya Sanogo toppled Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Toure in a military coup and took control of government institutions.
The coup leaders said they mounted the coup out of anger at the government’s inability to contain the two-month-old Tuareg rebellion in north of the country.
The coup drew international condemnation. The African Union, the ECOWAS, the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the International Crisis Group, and the United Nations have all denounced the military takeover of the government in the West African country.
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