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Fighting flares between Mali army, rebels in Kidal

September 30, 2013
Associated Press

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Malian soldiers and ethnic Tuareg separatist rebels clashed again in the northern town of Kidal early Monday, a day after trading gunfire downtown and sending terrified residents inside their homes.

After a lull in violence overnight, fighting flared in the morning but was brought to a halt when French soldiers arrived at the scene several hours later.

"The French forces are trying to calm the situation but it's very complicated," said Hubert de Quievrecourt, a communications officer with the French military mission. "For the moment there is no casualty toll but the fighting has stopped."

On Sunday, gunfire rang out near a bank in the heart of the town where Malian soldiers were standing guard. Each side accused the other of firing the first shots.

The clashes marked the first such violence in Kidal since the rebels announced last week they were suspending participation in a peace accord signed with the government in June.

That accord allowed for the Malian military to return to the town, where a separatist rebellion sparked in early 2012 forced the soldiers into retreat. The June agreement also allowed for democratic elections to go forward, the first since a March 2012 coup.

Talks were to resume between the two sides in Burkina Faso later this year. However, the rebels accused the government of failing to make good on its promises. Separatist sentiment remains high in Kidal, and the presence of the Malian soldiers has been highly controversial.



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