Around 10 people have been killed in northern Mali in fighting between a pro-government militia and a rebel coalition dominated by ethnic Tuaregs, the deputy secretary general for the pro-government Gatia militia said on Sunday.
The clash between Gatia and the Tuareg separatist Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) shows the fragility of a UN-backed deal signed last year between the government and northern armed groups meant to end a cycle of uprisings.
“The clash took place around 80 km north east of Kidal. People from the CMA captured two members of Gatia. They were pursued as far as Intachdayte northeast of Kidal and there was an exchange of fire,” said Haballa Ag Hamzata of Gatia.
He said around 10 people from CMA died in the clashes, which took place on Friday and Saturday, while others were wounded including five from Gatia. Vehicles and guns were recovered, he said.
Sidi Ould Ibrahim Sidat, of the CMA’s peace committee said four people died, adding that this was not confirmed. Reuters could not reach other CMA leaders.
Kidal is a stronghold of rebels claiming a Tuareg homeland they call Azawad, but the CMA and pro-government Gatia militia had peacefully shared control of Kidal since February.
Islamist militant groups, some with links to al Qaeda, hijacked a Tuareg uprising in 2012 and seized northern Mali until a French-led intervention drove them back a year later.
The peace deal was intended to ease long-standing tensions in the north and allow the army to concentrate on fighting jihadist groups.