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Originally published Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 4:39 AM

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Islamist group plants flag in Mali's Timbuktu

A member of the military says Islamist rebels entered the ancient city of Timbuktu and planted a flag after Tuareg rebels seized the city.

Associated Press

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BAMAKO, Mali —

A member of the military says Islamist rebels entered the ancient city of Timbuktu and planted a flag after Tuareg rebels seized the city.

The man said the rebel Ansar Dine group drove in in a 10-car convoy on Monday and planted their black flag.

The man requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The news is a worrying development for the north of Mali, where a Tuareg rebellion has now claimed the three largest northern towns including Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu. In Kidal and Gao, an Islamist faction had early on taken the lead, and shopkeepers reported they were told by the rebels to take down pictures of unveiled women.

On Sunday when Timbuktu fell, it appeared that a group of secular Tuareg rebels had the upper hand. The official said that residents are fleeing.

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