Leaders of the Tuareg separatist group Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, or MNLA, met Friday with youths in Gao to ask forgiveness for difficulties people have faced since armed groups took over northern Mali in March, Voice of America reported.
Before that, MNLA leaders were featured on local radio shows, where they also asked for forgiveness, particularly from the Songhai population.
"They told us they regret what has happened," said a father of nine in Gao. "They said they never thought things would reach this point; they thought they would just carry out their revolution, but now they are trapped."
Another resident of Gao said he is not surprised by the MNLA's pleas.
"I knew they would end up turning to the people, asking for their forgiveness," he said. "It's all about trying to win the people over as everyone knows the current situation cannot last.
"These are sons of Gao. It is their very own families who have suffered. MNLA knows they have to live with the people here, come what may."