A member of a secular rebel faction that controls part of northern Mali says one of the group's leaders was accidentally shot and wounded by his bodyguard during a clash with rival insurgents.
Bilal Ag Cherif, the secretary general of the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, has been airlifted to Ouagadougou, the capital of neighboring Burkina Faso, for treatment.
The NMLA member, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Cherif's bodyguard shot Cherif in the leg while trying to fight back the advance of the rival rebel faction, which had seized control of the NMLA's headquarters in the city of Gao earlier Wednesday.
Residents and a doctor at the local hospital reported seeing at least eight bodies, most of them those of NMLA combatants.
A helicopter was sent from Burkina Faso to pick up Cherif and take him to a hospital there.