Bamako, 20 Jumadil Awwal 1434/1 April 2013 (MINA) – Timbuktu has been hit by a prolonged battle between the Malian and French armies and the opposition, a Malian military spokesman said. 

Fighters linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, attacked the city in northern Mali late on Saturday night and have continued fighting on Sunday (31/3), said Captain Samba Coulibaly, spokesman for the Malian military in Timbuktu, according to Al Jazeera reports monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).

So far, the issue has not yet verified by AQIM, wether it’s wrong or not.

French fighter jets continue to bomb northern regions of Mali amid clashes, PressTV reported.

At least one Malian soldier and three fighters were killed in the fighting.

The media reported the attack started on Saturday night when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Malian military checkpoint at the western entrance to Timbuktu, he said.

The French military joined the Malian army Sunday to fight the fighters, said Timbuktu residents. “People are really scared, but it is mostly due to the lack of information about what is happening in the city,” said Ousmane Halle, Timbuktu mayor.

This is the first major attack on the city of Timbuktu since it was ‘liberated’ by French forces on January 28.

Press TV reported, Mali has been the scene of a deadly battle between local fighters and the French-backed Malian army since Paris launched an offensive in its former colony in January. 

The French-led war in Mali has caused a serious humanitarian crisis and has displaced tens of thousands of people, many of whom reside in refugee camps in neighboring countries in deplorable conditions. 

The people of northern Mali say the French war and the ruling junta are blocking the flow of humanitarian assistance to the war-affected areas.

The northern Malians say the blockade of the area by French and Malian troops has undermined the activities of healthcare workers in several refugee camps. Most of the camps have dire shortages of necessities such as food and medicine.

A UN humanitarian official said on February 27 that Mali remains in dire need of humanitarian assistance.  About “200,000 children are not getting any education and haven’t for the last year,” said John Ging, director of operations for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

France launched a war in Mali on January 11 under the pretext of halting the advance of  fighters in the country.(T/P09/P03)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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