Malian soldiers clashed with a group of suspected militants in a central Malian Town on Tuesday, seven people died including one soldier, a spokesman said.
Mali’s Defence Ministry and MINUSMA (Mali's U.N. mission) said gunmen attacked the central town of Tenenkou, around 400 km (250 miles) northeast of the capital Bamako at about 5:00am local time.
Arms and vehicles of separatists also were seized by government forces in the fighting, according to Ministry spokesman Colonel Diaran Kone.
The clash ended by mid-morning. "We understand that the Malian state forces maintained control of the town," MINUSMA spokeswoman Radhia Achouri said.
Coordination of Movements for Azawad (CMA) which comprises ethnic Arabs and Tuaregs claimed responsibility for the attack.
"Our people destroyed the [army] site and killed a large number of troops," Attaye Ag Abdoulahi, a spokesman for the separatist CMA told AA.
He also added the attack was a reaction to the offensive against the town of Menaka last week by groups allied with the government, which broke a cease-fire agreement.
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUC) and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) rebel groups had signed a ceasefire deal with the government on May 2014.
"The attack in Tenenkou is a consequence of the violation of the cease-fire in Menaka," he said. "We want to show the Malian parties that we can also launch hostilities and we will mark our presence on all territories where we can."
The latest clash between the separatist groups and the Malian security forces arose in the northern town of Menaka in late April. Since then peacekeepers have been calling for the government and rebels to end the conflict.
The violence also put a peace accord in jeopardy which to be signed on May 15 between various armed groups, separatists and the government.
"We emphasise the cease-fire and respect of the cease-fire. We are very committed to the signature of a peace accord on May 15 and we invite all parties to move towards that," Radhia Achouri, a spokeswoman for the UN mission in Mali said.