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The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad or the Azawad National Liberation Movement, formerly National Movement of Azawad is a political and military organisation based in Azawad/northern Mali. The movement is made up of Tuareg, and some of them are believed to have previously fought in the Libyan army, during the 2011 Libyan civil war and returned to Mali after that war. The movement was founded in October 2011 and had stated that it includes other Saharan peoples. The Malian government has accused the movement of having links to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. However, the MNLA deny the claims. By 1 April, the MNLA, along with Ansar Dine, were in control of virtually all of northern Mali, including the three biggest cities of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu. However, tensions between the two factions continued to rise, culminating in the Battle of Gao, in which the MNLA lost control of northern Mali's cities to Ansar Dine and Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa. (via Freebase)