Mali has been plunged further into crisis after losing much of its north to Tuareg fighters and other armed groups.
The separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) have declared an independent state of Azawad, a zone the size of France, in Mali's desert north.
They have an uneasy relationship with Ansar Dine, another Tuareg-led group that swept south, but that wants to impose Islamic law.
Al Jazeera's correspondent Mohamed Vall reports from Timbuktu.
Source: Al Jazeera