Malian army enters Ansongo in advances to restore control of northern region

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BAMAKO, Jan. 30 — The Malian soldiers, supported by their Nigerien allies, on Tuesday afternoon entered Ansongo, a town within the northeastern region of Gao and 80 km from the town of Gao, local residents told Xinhua on phone.

The residents said jubilation followed the liberation of the town after a 10-month occupation by rebels vowing to impose their harsh version of sharia law throughout the country.

“The Islamists left our town about three days ago. We thank God for having seen this Tuesday,” one of the residents said.

“We are very happy, but the only problem is that the occupiers are not very far from us. They are situated about 35 km from the town, especially at Tina Hama and Tinguerguerre localities,” he said.

Ansongo was known for amputations soon after occupied by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).

Another Gao resident told Xinhua that the town’s youths were moving around to identify the collaborators of the rebels to hand them over to security forces.