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Mali: Heavy gunfire reported in Gao

The heavy gunfire in Gao suggests that Mali's Islamist fighters have reentered the city.

Mali gao movement unity jihad islamistEnlarge
Fighters of the Islamist group Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa in the courtyard of the Islamist police station in Gao, in July 2012. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)

Heavy gunfire has been reported in the city of Gao, a sign that Islamist militants have reentered the northern city after being driven out by French and Malian forces just weeks ago. 

The gun battle comes just a day after a suicide bombing at a Gao checkpoint, the Associated Press reported, and two days after another suicide bomber attack within the city limits. 

Security in the most populous city in Mali was increased following the explosions. 

It is not yet clear which group is behind Sunday's gunfire, but the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO) in West Africa claimed responsibility for the suicide attacks and threatened more violence, BBC News reported.

"We are dedicating ourselves to carrying out more attacks against France and its allies. We ask the local population to stay far away from military zones and avoid explosions," MUJAO spokesman Abou Walid Sahraoui said, the Daily Star reported.

More from GlobalPost: Gao airport, bridge captured in Mali by French-led troops

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/130210/mali-heavy-gunfire-reported-gao