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September 29, 2013

Mali Soldiers Fight Tuareg Separatists

by VOA News

Malian soldiers and separatist rebels exchanged heavy gunfire in the northern separatist town of Kidal Sunday, in a return to violence after the rebels broke off a cease-fire with the government.

Local security officials did not say if anyone was killed in the fighting.

The battle came a day after a suicide bombing killed at least four people and wounded several more near a military camp in Timbuktu.

Last week, separatist Tuareg rebels pulled out of peace talks with the government.

Mali's new president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who took office in August, has said restoring peace and security is his top priority.

Several militant groups, including the ethnic Tuareg, used the confusion after a military coup in the capital, Bamako, in March 2012 to assert control in the country's north, where they planned to establish an Islamist state.

The central government reasserted its control in northern Mali after a French-led military operation in January.

The militants are no longer able to carry out major military actions, but the residual groups of these fighters stage sporadic small-scale attacks in the north.