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Tuareg rebels in deadly Mali raid

Tuaregs on camels
The Tuareg are an historically nomadic people living in remote desert regions

Ten Malian soldiers have been killed and six others wounded in an attack on an army post by Tuareg rebels in the north-east, the defence ministry says.

An army statement said 17 rebels died in the assault in Abeibara in the frontier region bordering Algeria.

The raid comes despite last month's ceasefire with the rebels, who want more autonomy and wealth-sharing.

A Tuareg spokesman told AFP news agency the attack was to avenge the death last month of rebel leader Barka Cheik.

War footing

The defence ministry say armed men battled soldiers stationed at a military post for about eight hours on Wednesday before being pushed back, AP news agency reports.

When the ceasefire was signed in April, the government agreed to scale back its presence in the north.

But Reuters news agency reports that the army has been kept on a war footing as they say Tuareg fighters have been behind several attacks since then.

The ceasefire agreement was brokered by Libya, which promised to help develop the region and fight poverty, which reporters say underlies the unrest.

The Tuareg are an historically nomadic people living in the Sahara and Sahel regions of North Africa.

Tuareg militants in Mali and Niger have been engaged in sporadic armed struggles for several decades.

The Malian military has accused them of involvement in drug-smuggling.


SEE ALSO
Q&A: Tuareg unrest
07 Sep 07 |  Africa

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