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Monday, September 17, 2007

The Sahel - Tuareg - Mail Battle ends with 12 Dead

BAMAKO, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Mali's army said on Sunday it had killed at least 12 Tuareg rebels in three days of clashes around a northern garrison besieged by the desert insurgents near the border with Algeria.

One government soldier was killed on Sunday when a column of army reinforcements heading for the garrison at Tin-Zaouatene in the remote northeast was ambushed by rebel fighters led by insurgent chief Ibrahima Bahanga, a senior officer said.

"The reinforcement mission which had left Kidal fell into an ambush this morning between Abebara and Tin-Zaouatene. There are five dead, one on our side and four on Bahanga's side," said the officer, who asked not to be named.

Since Friday, Bahanga's fighters have been besieging the garrison town of Tin-Zaouatene after a flurry of raids against military targets in recent weeks in what seems to be a limited revival of an earlier rebellion by the northern Tuaregs in the 1990s, both in Mali and neighbouring Niger.
The Malian officer said army mortar fire killed eight of Bahanga's fighters on Friday when Tin-Zaouatene's defenders fought off an attack. There were two further rebel assaults on Saturday, he added.

No independent confirmation of the casualties was immediately available.

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