UN fears Mali clashes could hurt peace process

Since the overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi's regime in Libya, weapons have travelled freely from the chaotic state in an arc of unrest through Mali and Niger (AFP Photo/SOULEYMANE AG ANARA) (AFP/File)

Bamako (AFP) - The UN voiced concerns over Mali's shaky peace deal Wednesday following deadly clashes between groups that have signed up to the agreement.

The clashes last week -- between pro-government group GATIA (the Imghad and Allies Tuareg Self-Defence Group) and ex-rebels from the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) -- left around a dozen fighters dead around the flashpoint northeastern town of Kidal.

"These clashes, as well as constituting repeated violations of ceasefire accords, threaten the progress achieved up until now in the implementation of the peace agreement," the UN's mission in Mali, known by the acronym MINUSMA, said in a statement.

The mission expressed "serious concern over the deterioration of the security situation and over reported allegations of human rights violations" and complained the unrest was hampering the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The UN called on parties involved in the peace deal to "take immediate measures to guarantee the protection of civilians and refrain from all action that could unleash a return to hostilities".

GATIA said this week that it had pushed the CMA out of two key villages in the region -- Inekabawatane, and In Khalil, a strategic frontier settlement which sees the transit of all imports from Algeria to northern Mali.

Northern Mali fell into the hands of jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda in early 2012.

Ongoing international military intervention since January 2013 has driven Islamist fighters away from the major urban centres they had briefly controlled, but large tracts of Mali are still not controlled by domestic or foreign troops.

Analysts say tribal rivalries have led to a deterioration of the security situation in the north.