Escape from Timbuktu: Foreigners Flee as Mali’s Rebels Declare Independence

A handout picture released by Azawad National Liberation Movement (MLNA) on April 2, 2012 and taken in February 2012 reportedly shows MNLA fighters gathering in an undisclosed location in Mali. AFP / GETTY IMAGES

TIME.com

Caked in dust and bristling with weaponry, the Tuareg rebels smiled at Neil Whitehead and Diane English. “It’s okay, we’re here for your protection,” one of the veiled warriors grinned at the nervous couple. Caught up in the middle of a war after Tuareg separatists advanced hundreds of miles in a matter of hours, the hotel-owners had tried twice already to leave their adopted home of Timbuktu. At first, retreating army columns had blocked their way. Then, when the road eventually cleared, English and Whitehead ran straight into a firefight. “There were guns going off all around us and tracer going past the cab windows, and we thought, ‘This isn’t good’,” English says, with a flash of understatement. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mutiny in Mali: On the Ground as Soldiers Target the Government in Bamako

TIME.com

In one direction sped a tan-colored ambulance, red crescent glistening on its side as it wailed north across the Bamako’s Bridge of Martyrs toward the sound of gunfire. In the other came people. Hundreds, if not thousands of them, women with their market goods bundled atop their heads, young men talking little and walking quickly, green buses packed with young and old, escaping the army mutiny that shattered the peace of Mali’s laid-back capital. Read the rest of this entry »