Bamako (AFP) – An Islamist group drove Tuareg rebels from the northern Malian town of Menaka on Monday, a regional security source said, in another setback for the Tuaregs who have been seeking to dislodge the Islamists.
Fighters from the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) “have just taken control of the locality of Menaka after a small clash with” Tuareg fighters of the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA), the source said.
A local resident confirmed the information, saying MUJAO fighters have “taken the military camp and are shouting Allah Akbar (God is great).”
The Tuaregs and Islamists groups including MUJAO were allies in their original bid to seize northern Mali in the chaotic aftermath of a coup in March in Bamako.
But their alliance fell apart in June, and the Tuaregs have since been chased out of territories that they had conquered by Islamists.
In recent weeks, the Tuaregs launched an offensive to reconquer these areas, and were planning to turn Menaka, a town close to the Niger border and to the east of major northern town Gao, into their base.
On Sunday, MUJAO said it had repelled the Tuaregs from Gao.