11 dead after Mali separatists launch central region attack

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BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Members of a coalition of separatist groups attacked a town in central Mali on Tuesday, killing 11 people and moving violence farther south after a cease-fire was broken last week, a spokesman and the government said.

Moussa Ag Attaher of the Coordination of Azawad Movements said that they attacked the town of Tenenkou in the central Mopti region. He said the violence was a reaction to the attack against the town of Menaka last week by groups allied with the government, which broke a cease-fire agreement.

"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."

Mali's government said in a statement on state television that 10 of the 11 who died were attackers, and several others were wounded.

Armed groups allied with the government attacked the northern town of Menaka last week, starting a surge of attacks by the coalition of separatists groups, also known by the acronym CMA. The violence threatens a peace accord meant to be signed May 15 between various armed groups, separatists and the government.

Radhia Achouri, a spokeswoman for the U.N. mission in Mali, confirmed the attack.

"We emphasize 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 toward that," Achouri said.

Algeria has mediated several rounds of peace talks between the Malian government and various Tuareg groups that have sought greater autonomy for the country's northern region, which they call Azawad.

Tuareg rebel groups seized control of northern Mali in early 2012 but then al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremist militants won control shortly afterward. Troops from former colonizer France later led a military offensive to dislodge the extremists.

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