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Niger Rebels Claim 15 Government Soldiers Killed


Rebels in northern Niger say they have killed 15 government soldiers in a clash near the town of Iferouane.

In a message on its Web site, the rebel Niger Movement for Justice says the fighting occurred Tuesday as a convoy of 100 military vehicles advanced on the town.

The group says its fighters destroyed six of the vehicles.

Army officials have acknowledged that an incident took place, but say just one soldier was killed.

The ethnic Tuareg rebels launched their uprising in February, attacking government and foreign company targets in remote northern Niger.

The rebels say the government has not lived up to a 1995 peace accord that promised Tuaregs a degree of autonomy and a share of the region's mineral wealth.

Northern Niger is home to rich uranium deposits but remains mired in deep poverty.

A rebel spokesman told VOA on Tuesday that the rebels would launch more attacks unless the government deals with the group.

The government has accused unidentified "rich foreign powers" of supporting the rebels. The rebel spokesman said the group has not received money, weapons, or training from anyone.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.