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Mali says 50 soldiers killed in Kidal fighting

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 26/05/2014 Canberra Times
Newspapers with headlines announcing the Malian army's defeat in seizing Kidal. © AFP Newspapers with headlines announcing the Malian army's defeat in seizing Kidal.

Bamako: Fifty Malian soldiers died this week during a failed army attempt to seize the Tuareg separatist northern town of Kidal, the West African country's defence minister said.

The fighting on Wednesday, the worst since the government and separatist groups signed a preliminary peace agreement last year, threatened to sink struggling peace talks to end a long cycle of Tuareg uprisings.

"In terms of toll, we have recorded 50 deaths unfortunately," Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga said on Malian state television on Sunday, adding that 40 others were wounded in the failed operation.

Mr Maiga had previously said that 20 soldiers were killed in the combat and 30 were wounded.

The Malian army launched the assault on Kidal after clashes broke out last weekend during a visit to the town by new Prime Minister Moussa Mara.

The Tuareg separatist and the government agreed to a deal brokered by the African Union and the United Nations on Friday to permanently cease fire, exchange prisoners, restart peace talks and accept an international investigation into Wednesday fighting.

Reuters

People held hostage in Kidal arrive in Bamako after their release. © AFP People held hostage in Kidal arrive in Bamako after their release.

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