Insurgents attacked an army base in Mali's restive northern desert, setting off a battle that left 10 soldiers and 17 rebels dead, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.

A group of armed men battled soldiers stationed at a military encampment in the far northern town of Abeibara for about eight hours on Wednesday before being pushed back, the ministry said in a statement.

Ethnic Tuareg rebels active in the area claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack, but gave a different death toll. The group said in a statement that only one of their fighters had died and that they had captured about 60 soldiers, along with weapons and several army vehicles.

The military statement did not mention if any soldiers were seized and officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The military said 31 others were injured in the fighting in Abeibara, a town about 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Kidal.

The ethnic Tuareg rebels signed a cease-fire with Mali's government on April 3, but Wednesday's fighting and a deadly attack on a military convoy earlier this month suggest the truce is weakening.