UN declares security zone around north Malian town

UN peacekeepers to establish safe zone around Kidal following fighting between pro-government group and Tuareg rebels

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

A soldier is seen sitting on the back of a truck in the rebel-controlled northern Malian town of Kidal, in May 2014 (AFP Photo/Fabien Offner)

UN peacekeepers will establish a 20 kilometer “security zone” around a town in tense northern Mali after clashes between a pro-government group and Tuareg rebels

The fighting broke out on Monday at Agnefis, about 120 kilometers south of the strategic town of Kidal. The “security zone” was declared to be in effect from Tuesday following the deadly incident.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, said in a statement that the clash was a “blatant violation” of the currently in force Mali peace deal known as the Algiers Accord.

 “The international community, as well as the the population, is concerned by the increasing number of violations, which could hinder the progress toward a stable and lasting peace in Mali,” said MINUSMA.

The UN peacekeepers said they were declaring a security zone around Kidal “to avoid any possible extension of fighting that could affect the population” of the town. 

The two groups accused each other of starting the fight over the weekend, breaching the peace deal signed by the government camp on May 15 and the rebels on June 20.

Mali experienced a coup in 2012 that allowed for Tuareg separatists to seize the towns and cities of the north of the country.

Al Qaeda militants then overpowered the separatists, taking control of the region for nearly 10 months before being ousted by a French-led military offensive.

TRTWorld and agencies