A sixth village attacked by Azawad rebels

The town of Niafunké, in north-central Mali, was attacked by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), which is also believed to be surrounding Tinzawatin, a village near the border with Algeria.

According to a spokesman of the rebellion who spoke to by MISNA, Niafunké would now be under control of the Touareg separatist movement . The spokesman was not able to provide any numbers concerning casualties or damage.

The military sources quoted by the international press report a contrasting version:the soldiers who were stationed in Niafunké repelled the MNLA attack, which the Malian government has accused of being backed by an unspecified criminal network tied to ‘Al Qaeda’. An accusation rejected by the movement, which refutes any amalgamation with international terrorism, even if it admits to having received support and arms from Malian migrants who returned from Libya after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Since January 17, the MNLA has claimed responsibility for offensives against the towns of Menaka, Aguelhoc, Tessalit, Anderamboukane, Lere and, last, Niafunke. The situation has prompted the flight at least thousands of civilians, according to the uniquehumanitarian information available from Lere.