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Al Qaeda seizes key arms depot

BAMAKO — An al Qaeda offshoot has seized a key underground arms depot in the strategic town of Gao in Mali’s rebel-controlled north, security sources said on Sunday.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) “have taken our underground weapons and ammunition depot in Gao. It’s one of the main depots of the Malian army,” a security source told the Agence France-Presse.

The depot was built to deal with “the prospect of a long and difficult war,” the source said.

Tuareg and Islamist rebels said overnight that they have joined forces to create an Islamic state in the vast desert north.

Mali has been in turmoil since a March 22 coup, and the north has steadily slipped out of Bamako’s control.

From wire dispatches and staff reports