Thousands of armed Tuareg tribesmen who previously served in Gadhafi's military have returned home to Mali, and this influx has re-energized the long-simmering Tuareg insurgency against the Malian government. These Tuareg insurgents have formed a new group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). On Jan. 16-17, MNLA militants attacked a military barracks and a national guard base in Menaka, Gao region. On the morning of Jan. 17, the MNLA continued attacks against the northeastern cities of Aguelhoc and Tessalit in Kidal region. Witnesses reported that approximately 20 vehicles drove through the town of Aguelhoc to the military barracks before firing on the army with small arms and heavy weapons. Throughout the clashes there were contradicting claims over who controlled the cities, but by Jan. 20 the Malian government released a statement indicating that the three towns of Menaka, Aguelhoc and Tessalit had been reclaimed, indicating the rebels had held them for at least a short period. The MNLA continued its series of armed assaults Jan. 26 on the towns of Anderamboukane in Gao region and Lere in Timbuktu region. Lere, a small town, is approximately 320 kilometers (about 200 miles) west of the towns previously targeted. Local residents reported that MNLA fighters arrived in a dozen cars after a military unit had left the town so the militants faced no resistance. On Jan. 31, the MNLA also reportedly attacked Niafunke, in Timbuktu region, in the far west of northern Mali. We have also seen an unconfirmed report of a purported MNLA attack in Ntilit, Goa region.