August 16, 2015 / 8:04 AM / 5 years ago

Mali armed groups clash near rebel stronghold Kidal -sources

Sidi Brahim Ould Sidati of the Coordination of Movements for Azawad signs a peace agreement in Bamako, Mali, June 20, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Rival armed groups in northern Mali said on Saturday they briefly exchanged fire in the first apparent breach of a peace accord they signed with the government in June.

An exchange of light and heavy weapons fire took place south of Kidal, the stronghold of secular Tuareg rebels leading a coalition known as the Coordination of Azawad Movements, or CMA.

“Firing began at around 18h30 between the Platform and the CMA in the Amassine valley south of Kidal,” said a source within Gatia, the main pro-government militia within an alliance of groups called Platform.

A CMA military source also confirmed the incident but said shooting had stopped by nightfall.

It was not immediately clear if there were deaths or injuries or why the fighting had resumed.

The West African country is seeking to put an end to successive bouts of Tuareg uprisings dating back to independence from France in 1960.

Most recently in 2012, Tuareg rebels formed an alliance with Islamist militant groups and seized the desert north until a French invasion scattered them a year later.

Despite a U.N.-backed deal in June, the Malian army and thousands of peacekeepers are struggling to impose order amid deep inter-communal tensions and frequent attacks by jihadists.

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