Malian army clashes with rebels
The fighting broke out around 5:00 am (0500 GMT) in the central market town of Tenenkou, a local councillor told AFP, identifying the insurgents as members of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA).
“Currently we are under fire from CMA rebel groups and the army. The shooting is in Tenenkou,” the councillor told AFP.
The CMA said in a statement it had taken control of the town, although this was denied by the councillor and the Malian army.
“The rebels have no control whatsoever over Tenenkou. It’s just bluster. We took steps to strengthen our positions in the centre,” a military source said.
“The Malian army should soon take control of the terrain. The fighting is ongoing.”
A civilian member of the international mediation team in the country’s peace process called for an immediate end to the fighting.
Tuareg rebel groups have clashed with Malian forces and pro-government militias in the north since Monday last week.
The latest clash comes after the UN Security Council demanded an immediate halt to an upsurge in fighting in Mali and threatened to impose sanctions against those responsible for the violence.
The 15-member council said on Friday renewed fighting last week threatened to undermine the peace process.
The council recalled in a joint statement that it had threatened to impose sanctions in April and said it would now “evaluate next steps” following the fresh fighting.
The Malian government and a coalition of armed groups known as the Platform have signed a peace accord, brokered by Algeria under UN auspices.
The recent violence comes amid assurances by the CMA that it was committed to the deal brokered by Algeria and due to be ratified at a ceremony in Bamako on May 15.