47 Killed as Former Libyan Mercs Fight Mali Military

Tuareg Spokesman Rejects Claim of Major Military Victory

by Jason Ditz, January 19, 2012

The Malian military is reporting that at least 47 people were killed today, including 45 rebels, as fighting between troops and ethnic Tuareg fighters in the far north continued. They claimed a major victory in the fight, with many rebels wounded.

The rebel faction, which calls itself the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA), is a Tuareg movement seeking to create an autonomous region in Mali’s far north. The group has attacked several towns in the area.

NMLA has gotten a considerable boost in recent months as a large number of Tuareg fighters who had been hired as mercenaries for the recent civil war in Libya have returned home and brought their weapons with them.

NMLA spokesmen rejected the claims of a loss to the military, saying fighting continued and that there were a lot more Malian soldiers killed than the military’s figures would indicate.

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