Azawad, also known as Northern Mali, is a territory in northern Mali and an unrecognized state that existed from 6 April to 26 June 2012. Azawad has a primarily Sunni Muslim Tuareg population, and the Tuaregs rejected indigenous African rule in favor of autonomy and independence. The Tuaregs launched a rebellion against the central government in 2012, starting the Malian Civil War, and they proclaimed an independent state of Azawad with Timbuktu as its proclaimed capital and Gao as its provisional capital. In June 2012, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar Dine militants took over Gao and the rest of the Azawad region, ending its independence. On 14 February 2013, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) declared a ceasefire with the Malian government in exchange for negotiations concerning Azawadi autonomy.