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Islamic extremists on Saturday seized the town of Douentza on the frontier of the northern territory they control, and the government-held south, residents told AFP.

Moussa Dicko, a teacher in the town which lies 170km (100 miles) from Mopti, which is under army control, said the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) fighters had entered the town on Saturday morning.

"This morning between 7:00am (local and GMT) and 8:00 am people from MUJAO arrived on nine 4x4 vehicles. They disarmed people from Ganda Iso" a local militia which was holding the town.

"They took all the weapons and then chased them away," said Dicko, adding the jihadists had met with officials in the town to explain that the notorious self-defence group -- which had promised to work with them -- were "traitors".

"As I speak they have taken the different entrances and exits to the town."


Farmer Almadhi Cisse confirmed the information.

"This morning when I woke up I saw MUJAO vehicles heading towards the barracks. A while later I heard all the people from Ganda Iso had been disarmed. No one was killed. Now they are at the eastern and western entrances to the town."

AFP, photo by Soren Faurby