Soldiers, separatist Tuareg rebels fight in Mali, despite cease-fire

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Malian troops and separatist Tuareg rebels clashed this week despite a cease-fire agreement between the sides.

The Malian government said in a statement issued late Monday that an army patrol was attacked Sunday by armed men in eastern Mali near the border with Burkina Faso. It said one of the attackers was killed and 20 were detained.

But Tuareg rebel spokesman Moussa Ag Assarid said Tuesday that the soldiers attacked the rebels. He said three rebels and nine soldiers died in the fighting.

This is the first confrontation between rebels and soldiers since a cease-fire was signed in May. The rebels are seeking an independent homeland in Mali's north.