Bamako. The situation in northern Mali has deteriorated with fighting between the separatist Tuareg group MNLA and the army in Kidal on Sunday and a suicide bomb attack hitting another town of Timbuktu the previous day.
Local authorities reported the exchange of fire in the central part of Kidal, which used to be the stronghold of the MNLA, but lately controlled by the Malian army. Sources at the army camp positioned in Kidal said they were being attacked for the first time in town since the MNLA moved out for disarmament under a truce signed three months ago. An agreement was signed on June 18 in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, between the Malian government and the Tuareg rebel groups of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the Supreme Council for Azawad Unity (HCUA).The agreement stipulated that inter-Mali inclusive talks to achieve lasting peace should be held at least 60 days after the election of a new president.
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who won Mali’s presidential election in the second round held on Aug. 11, has declared that he would not wait for 60 days to begin addressing the crisis in the northern part of the country. The fighting erupted days after the two sides held talks in new efforts to end tensions, which caused casualties in clashes between the army and the MNLA outside Kidal, even after the truce was signed. The MNLA occupied Kidal in the aftermath of the military coup on March 22, 2012. The resumption of hostilities adds to concerns caused by a suicide bomb attack in another northern town of Timbuktu on Saturday.