Skip to main content

Mali Islamists take over town as chaos continues

From Amadou Timbine, CNN
updated 12:18 AM EDT, Sun September 2, 2012
An Islamist rebel is pictured on April 24, 2012 near Timbuktu, in rebel-held northern Mali.
An Islamist rebel is pictured on April 24, 2012 near Timbuktu, in rebel-held northern Mali.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chaos has rocked Mali since a military ruler overthrew the president in March
  • The country was one of West Africa's most stable democracies

Bamako, Mali (CNN) -- Islamist rebels in Mali have taken over a town in the middle of the country, a rebel leader and a resident said Saturday.

Douentza is in central Mali, about 110 miles (175 kilometers) from the key town of Sevare, which is in a buffer zone between the rebel-occupied north and the south.

Chaos has rocked Mali since a military ruler overthrew the democratically elected president in March, shaking one of West Africa's most stable democracies.

Two Islamist groups, MUJAO and the al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine, now control Douentza, according to Ansar Dine military leader Omar Hamaha.

Mali's refugee children
Refugee: They slit open a man's stomach

He said Ansar Dine had allowed the Ganda Izo militia to set up base in the town so they could join Ansar Dine, but the Ganda Izo people had "betrayed" them.

"We have become aware that there are intelligence offers and security agents of the Malian army among them," Hamaha said. "It's why we have decided to take over Douentza and disarm the so-called Ganda Izo militiamen."

A resident of Douentza, Adama Guindo, said the Islamists disarmed the militia without shooting. He described groups of Islamist fighters riding in vehicles mounted with heavy weapons inside the town.

The coup leader who overthrew the democratically elected president stepped down in May and transferred power to a civilian transitional government, but ethnic Tuareg rebels and other Islamist militants have taken advantage of the uncertainty to seize control of the northern part of the country, including Timbuktu.

Members of the Malian army are currently based in Sevare for training and possible military intervention in the north.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT