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June 13, 2012

Mali Rebels, Militants Clash in North

by VOA News

Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants have clashed in northern Mali, just days after breaking off a brief alliance against the government.

A local official in the city of Timbuktu said the two sides exchanged gunfire at a checkpoint on Wednesday, injuring at least two people.

Parliament member Baba Haidara said the fighting began after Islamist militants with Ansar Dine demanded that Tuareg rebels with the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA) lay down their weapons.

​​Haidara said Ansar Dine has forbidden MNLA rebels from moving around the city while armed.

Last month, Ansar Dine and MNLA formed an alliance and announced plans to form an independent, Islamic state in the north. But they broke off the deal on June 1, following a dispute over whether to impose a moderate or strict form of Islamic law.

Mali's transitional government and the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said Mali's territorial integrity is non-negotiable.

The rebel and militant groups seized the north after a March military coup that ousted the government of President Amadou Toumani Toure.

Under intense international pressure, coup leaders agreed to cede control to civilian transitional President Dioncounda Traore, who is to oversee new elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.