At least two dead in north Mali clashes: hospital
BAMAKO (Reuters) - At least two people were killed in protests in the rebel-held northern Mali city of Gao on Tuesday when youths clashed with rebel fighters they accuse of killing a local councilor, a hospital official said.
"We have two deaths and at least eight seriously wounded," Ibrahim Maiga, a laboratory technician at the local hospital, told Reuters by telephone. Other sources said the toll could be higher.
Separatist Tuareg-led MNLA rebels, with the backing of local al Qaeda-backed Islamists, seized the northern two-thirds of Mali in early April, emboldened by a March 22 coup in the southern capital Bamako.
Youths marched in protest at the killing on Monday of Idrissa Oumarou, a local teacher and a councilor for ADEMA, the main party in the national parliament.
"The MNLA militants reacted by opening fire on the crowd," said one Gao resident, Kader Toure, by telephone. An MNLA spokesman declined to comment on the clashes.
MNLA and Ansar Dine hold uneasy joint control of Gao and the other two northern cities of Timbuktu and Kidal.
While the MNLA had declared an independent state of Azawad in the occupied region, Ansar Dine has rejected the idea, saying its objective was to impose sharia, Islamic law, across Mali.
(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo, Adama Diarra and Cheikh Diouara; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Louise Ireland)
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