Mali: Tuareg rebels take Timbuktu
Coup leaders justified their action by the need to put down Tuareg rebels in the north. However, since the coup the rebels have advanced rapidly through the north..
In Timbuktu government troops fled the advance. Local militias who were guarding businesses apparently mixed with the rebels and did not fight with them. The rebels bombarded an army base but there were no troops there.
Since the coup rebels have advanced quickly taking two main towns in the north Kidal and Gao. Rebels are driving through Timbuktu waving the MNLA (Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) flag.
Timbuktu is almost 1,000 years old. It is on the southern edge of the giant Sahara desert. The town is on key trading routes. It is also noted for Islamic scholarship with over 700 ancient manuscripts in approximately sixty libraries.
The democratically elected president of Mali Amadou Toure is supposedly safe but kept at a secret location by the rebels. The fighting in the north has displaced about 200,000 people adding to the problems in Mali and neighbouring countries. For more see this article.
Do not be surprised if the U.S. intervenes secretly through special forces and drone attacks as the Tuareg fought with Gadaffi and also some rebel groups are associated with Islamic radicals. The U.S. trained the coup leader and supplies the Malian military with military equipment.