Tuareg rebels have claimed to have captured a camp of Mali’s armed forces in the north of the country, where clashes have been escalating since August.
The Upper Council for Azawad Unity [CUA] said in a brief statement on social networks on Wednesday that the army camp at Taoussa, in the Gao region, was “under the control” of the rebels, without giving further details.
A local teacher, contacted by AFP news agency, reported ongoing gunfire in the afternoon in the area of the camp.
The CUA is part of a predominantly Tuareg alliance called the Coordination of Azawad Movements [CMA].
In 2012, the groups launched an insurrection against the Malian state before signing a peace agreement with it in 2015 that set the goal of greater regional autonomy and integrating combatants in a reformed arm.
In December, the CMA announced it was suspending participation in mechanisms for implementing the 2015 accord, angrily accusing the junta of lacking “the political will” to honour its provisions.
The assailants usually seize army positions and then leave after a while, according to the rare reports and images that emerge from these events.
The military authorities generally claim to have repelled the attackers.
However, the claims from all sides are difficult to verify in these remote areas, and access to independent sources is difficult.
The renewed fighting in northern Mali coincides with the withdrawal of the UN mission to the country, which has been pushed out by the junta that seized power in 2020.
Mali’s army has deployed a convoy which is moving towards a northern separatist rebel stronghold in a high-risk operation which could foreshadow a widescale confrontation.
The large military convoy left the city of Gao on Monday, headed towards the northern Kidal region.
It would reportedly go first to the localities of Tessalit and Aguelhok north of the town of Kidal to take over camps being vacated by departing troops of the UN MINUSMA stabilisation force.
The CMA attack on Taoussa follows those on military bases in Bamba, Lere, Dioura and Bourem in recent weeks, all in northern and central Mali, where both sides seek to control territory.