Fighting rages in northern Mali

AFP-JIJI

Tuareg militias battled Arab rebels in northern Mali on Saturday, while French jets, U.S. drones and Chad’s elite desert forces were also in action in a major push to stamp out resistance from pockets of Islamist fighters.

After recapturing the north’s cities from the al-Qaida groups that had controlled them since April 2012, the French-led offensive took the fight to the retreating Islamist insurgents’ toughest desert bastions.

The Arab Movement of Azawad, a group formed in March last year, said it had attacked Tuaregs of the Azawad National Liberation Movement at In-Khalil, near the northern town of Tessalit — the same area where suicide car bombers killed three people on Friday.