An armed groups have taken over parts of Timbuktu, in northern Mali, to prevent the installation of interim authorities under the Algiers peace accord.

Fighters of the Arab Movement of Azawad surrounded Timbuktu to prevent Malian interim authorities from being installed there, breaching the Algiers peace accord.

Fighters belonging to the Arab Movement Of Azawad (MAA) were seen standing on sandbags and wielding rocket launchers at an official checkpoint, their faces wrapped with scarves to protect them against the blowing sand.

Banks, schools and shops were closed and the city’s streets nearly deserted, barring patrols by U.N. peacekeepers. Residents reported sporadic gunfire that had fallen silent by the afternoon.

Most government posts have been unfilled since ethnic Tuareg separatists and desert jihadists took over northern Mali in 2012, before French forces intervened to push them back. A peace deal signed in 2015 was meant to enable authorities to return.

Last week, authorities were installed in the towns of Kidal – seen as the north’s most recalcitrant bastion of Tuareg separatism – and Menaka.

But there were also difficulties in Gao, the region’s most populous city where dozens of armed men briefly occupied the regional assembly until their demands for greater participation were met.

 

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