BAMAKO — New fighting broke out on September 17 between the Malian army and Tuareg rebels from the north, with the latter claiming to have taken control of two military bases in the central town of Lere.
The rebel alliance, called the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), has been fighting the army since August, a conflict sparked in part by the departure of a United Nations peacekeeping mission that had contributed for years to maintain a fragile calm.
But clashes appear to be intensifying as both sides seek to control territory in the desert center and north of the West African country, just as U.N. peacekeeping forces withdraw.
Last week, the CMA, made up of semi-nomadic Tuaregs, said it had attacked four army positions around the town of Bourem and taken away vehicles, weapons and ammunition. Léré is approximately 500 km (315 miles) west of Bourem.
“The CMA has taken control of both camps in Léré,” said CMA spokesperson Mohamed Elmaouloud Ramadane.
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The Malian armed forces said on social media platform X on Sunday evening that an attack had taken place in Lere and that a response was underway, without providing details.
Neither side said whether anyone was killed or injured in the clashes.
The Tuaregs have long complained of government neglect and sought autonomy for the desert region they call Azawad.
A Tuareg uprising in 2012 was taken over by Islamist groups who continue to attack civilians and the army.
The CMA signed a peace deal with the government and pro-government militias in 2015. But tensions have resurfaced since the military consolidated its power in two coups in 2020 and 2021, joined forces with Russian military contractor Wagner Group and expelled French forces. and UN peacekeepers.
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