The Malian army locked horns with Islamist Militants in a heavy gunfire in the mayor’s office in the northern city of Gao which the army say they have broken the backbone of the militants.
Malian troops opened fire on the mayor’s office in the northern town of Gao with mounted machine guns on Thursday and dislodge suspected Islamist fighters holed up inside the mayor’s office.
It is unclear how the Islamist Militants got access to the building but the French Defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said troops had finally driven out militants occupying the building and killed scores of them.
“Malian troops supported by French soldiers killed five jihadists and the situation is back to normal in Goa” he said.
Gunfire and explosions rang out in the early hours of Thursday across the town, where French and Malian troops have been working to secure the area against bombings and guerrilla attacks by Islamist rebels, local reporters said.
Gao is the biggest town in northern Mali, which was retaken from al Qaeda-linked Islamists last month in a lightning French offensive on behalf of the Malian government.
A resident in Gao said he heard an explosion and then saw a Malian military vehicle on fire in a nearby street and thereafter, was an intense gun fire.
Thursday’s clashes came nearly two weeks after French and Malian forces fought hours of street battles with Islamists who had infiltrated the town.
In the city of Kidal, at least two people were reportedly wounded in a car bombing near the barracks housing French and Chadian soldiers.
“Two civilians were wounded, they are at the hospital, no one has yet approached the vehicle to see if the driver was still alive”, a resident told France24 TV.
But the spokesman for the Movement for Jihad in West Africa MUJAO, the Islamist group which controlled Gao for nine months, said their fighters had entered Gao on Wednesday.
“Our troops have been ordered to attack. If the enemy is stronger, we’ll pull back only to return stronger, until we liberate Gao,” Abu Walid Sahraoui told AFP News Agency.
He later said that MUJAO had detonated a car bomb near a military base in Kidal which wounded two people and further said more attacks should be expected as they intend to battle the French, Malian and the Africa Union troops until they regain control of the country.
Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News
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