Troops and jihadis were still fighting in Timbuktu on Sunday morning after a suicide-bomber in a car tried unsuccessfully to break through a military roadblock and set off his suicide vest, wounding a Malian soldier.
At the same time rebels on motorcycles entered the city and opened “two fronts”, near a hotel and a military camp in the city centre, the military said.
Malian troops, who are based in the city, backed up by French troops, who are usually based at the airport, were searching for the jihadis on Sunday morning and clashed with them, leaving two rebels dead and four Malian troops wounded, according to official sources.
A previous suicide attack, the first ever in the city, took place on 21 March and was later claimed by the Mujao fundamentalist militia.
In Bamako on Saturday the president and vice-president of the Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission, which is charged with establishing peace between ethnic and interest groups and preparing the country for elections, were nominated along with 30 members of the body.
The president is Mohamed Salia Sokona, a former defence minister and ambassador to France, while the vice-presidents are Traoré Oumou Touré, the leader of a coalition of women’s organisations, and Méti ag-Mohamed Rhissa, a Tuareg customs officer from the northern town of Kidal.