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UN Announces Safety Zone Around Malian City After Deadly Armed Clashes

© Flickr / United Nations PhotoScene from Mopti, Mali
Scene from Mopti, Mali - Sputnik International
The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) announced a 20-kilometer (12-mile) safety zone around the northern city of Kidal after the recent escalation of violence.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — In the last few days, at least 15 people were killed during armed clashes between the “Coordination of Azawad Movements” and “Platform” rival militant groups in northern Mali.

“To prevent any chance of clashes that can cause civilian casualties… MINUSMA announced a 20-kilometer safety zone around the city of Kidal,” MINUSMA reported on Monday.

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According to MINUSMA, the zone will be established at 8:00 GMT on August 18.

Mali, a French colony until 1960, has been in turmoil since a 2012 military coup, which triggered an uprising of separatist Tuareg tribes in the country's north. The revolt then attracted Islamist groups with links to al-Qaeda to the country.

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Several insurgent groups are currently fighting against the Malian government in an attempt to gain independence or greater autonomy for the country's northern region, an area known as Azawad.

The United Nations has a 10,000-strong peacekeeping force in Mali that assists the Malian government in its attempts to end the conflict. UN personnel in Mali come under regular attacks of anti-government groups.

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