Rebels Launch Surprise Attack Against Malian Troops in Gao

Rebels in Canoes Snuck Up on Junta Forces

by Jason Ditz, February 10, 2013

The northern Mali city of Gao continues to be contested today, as another suicide attack targeted a checkpoint and a later ambush by a large number of rebel fighters sparked a major gunbattle.

The suicide attack only wounded a single soldier, according to junta officials. They say that the checkpoint guards saw him leap over a wall and fired at him before he got too close, and his detonation was farther way from them than intended.

The ambush appears to have been much more serious, as rebels from the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) sent a number of troops armed with automatic rifles in canoes to sneak into the city, starting a battle that lasted all afternoon and continued into the night.

MUJAO claimed to have fought off the junta forces from a part of the city, and locals reported they had captured a police station in the center of town. Helicopter gunships were reported launching attacks in the area, but the exact status of the situation at present remains unclear.

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