Bamako - Mali's Tuareg rebel MNLA and Ansar Dine Islamist militants have agreed to merge and create an independent Islamic state in the north of the country, a rebel spokesman said on Saturday.
The deal between MNLA, which has said it wants an independent secular state in the north, and the al-Qaida-linked Salafist Ansar Dine, which had wanted to impose Sharia across Mali, may complicate international efforts to stabilize Mali after a March coup that plunged the country into chaos.
Celebratory gunfire was heard across the city of Gao and Timbuktu after news of the agreement, residents said.
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