Mali's Tuareg separatists freeze cooperation with UN mission and threaten to boycott talks

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The spokesman for a Tuareg separatist movement in Mali says relations with U.N. peacekeepers have been suspended after a deadly clash.

Mossa Ag Attaher on Friday accused U.N. peacekeepers of siding with the government and its allied militias and threatened to boycott the next round of peace talks set for Feb. 8 in Algiers.

A Dutch attack helicopter with the U.N. mission destroyed a separatist vehicle on Tuesday near the remote desert town of Tabancort killing seven, according to Attaher.

The U.N. said peacekeepers came under fire.

Northern Mali fell under control of Tuareg separatists and then al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists in 2012. A French-led intervention last year scattered the extremists.

U.N. troops are now trying to stabilize the north, and peace talks have begun between the Malian government and Tuaregs.