Fighting between rival Tuareg groups kills 6 in NE Mali

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Fighting broke out Saturday in northeastern Mali between a coalition of Tuareg rebels and a Tuareg group allied with the government of this West African country, killing at least six people.

The fighting took place in Edjerer, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Kidal, between the government-allied group GATIA and the Coordination of Azawad Movements, a coalition of groups seeking autonomy in northern Mali that includes ethnic Arabs and Tuaregs.

Fahad Ag Almahmoud, secretary-general for GATIA, said they killed at least six of the coalition’s fighters.

Almouzamile Ag Mohamed, spokesman for a group in the coalition, confirmed the fighting. The groups blamed each other for its start.

Residents said French forces were out on the streets in Kidal to protect civilians. Fighting last week between the groups in Kidal killed at least 16 people.

Also on Saturday, residents in a village west of Gossi said a Malian army vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, killing two soldiers and wounding three others. A Malian military official confirmed the deaths, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the press on the matter. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but jihadist groups linked to al-Qaida are active in the region south of Timbuktu in Mali’s north.

Mali’s government also says it will again extend a state of emergency until March 2017.

A state or emergency allows police in Mali to search homes without a warrant, and it bans protests.

The state of emergency was originally put in place in November 2015 after extremists stormed a luxury hotel in the capital and killed 20. The state of emergency has since been extended several times because of violence.

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