UN urges Mali rebels to resume peace talks

2013-10-05 11:09

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Bamako - The UN's envoy to Mali, Bert Koenders, on Friday urged Tuareg and Arab rebels to return to peace talks with the Bamako government, amid a resurgence of violence in the north of the country.

The rebels, who are fighting for autonomy in northern Mali, announced in late September that they were pulling out of talks with the government.

The move dealt a blow to hopes of a durable peace in the troubled west African country, which only elected a new president in August after 18 months of political crisis sparked by a military coup in March last year.

Attacks

Violence returned to northern Mali the day after the rebels announced they were walking away from talks, with two Malian soldiers wounded by a grenade attack in rebel stronghold Kidal.

A suicide bombing attack followed swiftly in another northern city, Timbuktu, killing two civilians and wounding six soldiers, according to Bamako. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed that 16 soldiers were killed in the attack.

Fresh fighting also broke out in Kidal, with insurgents launching attacks on the army.

Pointing to the renewed violence, Koenders urged a swift return to talks.

"That's the only solution," he said after meeting Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, who has taken on the role of mediator in the Mali crisis.

"It is important now that the negotiations between the parties resume as soon as possible," said Koenders.

The MNLA - the main Tuareg group involved in the peace talks - took control of Kidal in February after the French-led military operation ousted al-Qaeda-linked fighters who had piggybacked on last year's Tuareg rebellion to seize most of northern Mali.

The Malian authorities reclaimed the city after signing a ceasefire deal with the MNLA but the situation has remained tense.

Read more on:    un  |  mali  |  west africa
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