Two people were killed on Tuesday in northern Mali during a protest that turned violent in the town of Gao.
The youth of the town resorted to the protest calling for justice in the implementation of the peace agreement in the country, a protester told AFP.
“There are two dead people in our hospital, they are civilians. There are also wounded,” an official at the Gao hospital said.
According to another source contacted by AFP, the protest was held to denounce the methods of integrating former militants into the regular army and the establishment of interim authorities in the five administrative regions of the north.
The protest was banned by the authorities of Gao, but hundreds of young people took to the streets on foot and by bike. Tires were burned in several parts of the city and the markets were closed, witnesses said.
Security forces intervened to disperse the protesters and some witnesses reported the firing of tear gas and live ammunition.
“We wanted to demonstrate to denounce the insecurity on the Bamako-Gao road, also demand our recruitment into the army, and to denounce the establishment of the interim government,” Oumar Maiga, one of the initiators of the event and a member of the youth association in Gao told AFP.
“The city council wanted to ban our march by refusing us permission. We decided to continue. There were scuffles and the police fired tear gas and weapons of war at us like criminals,” he added.
A teacher living in Gao said that there was tension in the city at midnight and it continued with automatic gunfire. “Many people are locked up at home when they heard the youth threaten to attack municipal officials’ homes,” he added.
In June, the Malian government and armed groups were signatories of a 2015 peace agreement on the establishment of interim authorities in the five regions of northern Mali to be deployed from Friday.
According to the document signed by representatives of Bamako, pro-government armed groups and former Tuareg rebels, the interim authorities should replace the local authorities of the North.
The chairman of each interim authority will be the head of the local executive and their decisions will be enforceable immediately. Their legality is controlled by the state representative posteriori.
Gao is the largest city in northern Mali and has been the centre of many conflicts between Islamist militants and the combined French and Malian Army troops.