The Tuareg want a secular independent state, but are been pushed aside by Ansar Dine fighters [Reuters]
The armed Islamist group Ansar Dine have forced Tuareg rebels to leave the northwestern Mali town of Timbuktu and its outskirts as tension between the armed factions continue to rise.

The Al Qaeda linked armed group declared on Thursday that they had secured full control of Mali’s desert north, a day after pushing their former Tuareg separatist allies out of the town of Gao in a gun battle that killed at least 20 people

Residents contacted from the capital Bamako on Thursday said no fighters from the Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) could be seen in the positions they had earlier occupied around Timbuktu and at the airport.

“Ansar Dine gave them two hours to leave” and they did so, according to the owner of a hotel that had been closed by the Islamist armed group.

The order was given before midday Thursday.

No official from Ansar Dine or the MNLA could immediately be contacted.

Timbuktu threatened

Meanwhile, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) put Timbuktu on the list of endangered World Heritage sites on Thursday at the request of the Malian government, desperate to save the historic richness of its fabled city. Read more…