1 Apr 2012

Key army town attacked by rebels in Mali

6:36 am on 1 April 2012

Tuareg rebels in Mali have attacked the strategic northern garrison town of Gao with heavy weapons.

Officials in the town say rebels drove in pickup trucks and there was sustained gunfire.

The attack came hours after another town, Kidal, fell to the rebels.

Gao hosts the army's biggest garrison in the region.

Separatist rebels seeking to carve out a desert homeland began a rebellion in the west African state in January, the BBC reports.

The military junta has sent a delegation to neigbouring Burkina Faso to hold talks with President Blaise Compaore, 48 hours before west African states start enforcing tough sanctions on Mali.