Fighting has erupted between pro-government militia and rebels in northern Mali, violating a truce. The battle erupted as the African nation declared a state of emergency after 17 Malian soldiers were killed by rebels.
Tuareg rebels battled pro-government militia fighters in Mali's desert north Friday, the second day of clashes raising fears for a fraying peace deal.
Gunfire erupted in the town of Kidal after days of growing tensions between the Tuareg-dominated Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and rival Gatia militia fighters.
The peace agreement signed last year by the government, its militia allies and the Tuareg separatists was intended to ease tensions between armed groups in the north and allow the army to concentrate on fighting Islamist militants.
The CMA, whose stronghold is Kidal, demanded Gatia militiamen withdraw from the city where the situation remained tense. Gatia secretary-general Fahad Almahmoud issuing a Friday statement accusing the government of bankrolling the CMA.
The bloodshed erupted on the same day the West African nation declared a state of emergency and a three-day national mourning period after 17 Malian soldiers were killed and 35 others injured when suspected Islamists attacked a military base in central Mali.
Mali's north has been volatile since separatist rebel groups and later al-Qaeda associated militants took control of the region in 2012.
Tuareg separatists took hold of Mali's north in 2012 before al-Qaida-linked militants took control. French forces pushed them out of their strongholds in 2013. Since then, the north has remained on edge, with more than 11,000 UN soldiers and thousands of Malian troops maintaining an uneasy peace.
jar/kms (Reuters, dpa)