BY Mark Babatunde, 5:00am July 13, 2016,

3 Protesters Shot Dead in Malian City of Gao

protesters took to the streets in the northern city of Goa in Mali photo:

Three protesters have been shot dead and another 31 have been injured, after soldiers fired on protesters Tuesday in the northern city of Gao in Mali.

Thousands of protesters gathered in the streets of Gao and marched toward the central police station before eventually surrounding it. They also barricaded roads and set fire to old tires as they pelt the police with stones.

Before the military opened fire, security forces reportedly attempted to disperse the crowd with tear gas. They killed three people and wounded dozens.

Afterward, a heavy military presence continued to patrol the streets.

Carrying knives and machetes, the protesters demonstrated against the Malian government’s decision to institute a new interim authority to administer and take charge of the northern region, beginning Friday.

According to protesters, the government has put power in the hands of armed groups and their administration is not benefiting its citizens.

Last year, the Malian government signed a peace pact with Tuareg-led rebels aimed at ending a long conflict that has destabilized the desert country and transformed it into a base for violent jihad. Observers say, however, that the peace deal has all but collapsed.

Tuareg fighters in the region of "Azawad" northern Mali photo:

Tuareg fighters in the region of Azawad, northern Mali. Photo Credit:

Tuareg and Arab tribes in the north of Mali, an area rebel fighters call “Azawad,” complain of marginalization and deprivation by the relatively more prosperous government in the South of the country. Azawad is mostly desert and sparsely populated but includes the historic cities of Gao and Timbuktu.

Tuareg fighters seized parts of northern Mali, including Timbuktu in 2012, but the area was then quickly overrun by Islamist fighters linked to al-Qaeda. Since Mali maintains close ties with France, its former colonial ruler, French forces would later intervene, which led a military campaign that chased out the Islamist fighters in 2013.

The Coordination of Azawad Movements, the umbrella rebel alliance, complains that the U.N.-backed deal signed a year ago falls short of their demands. They also accuse the government of delaying the implementation of some of the peace agreements. The government in turn accuses the rebels of breaking several terms of the peace agreement.

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: June 19, 2018


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