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Tuareg rebels agree ceasefire in northern Mali

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Tuareg rebels agree ceasefire in northern Mali

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Rebels in northern Mali have signed a ceasefire agreement with the government.

It comes after a week when dozens of soldiers have been killed or wounded in clashes that threatened to plunge the country back into war.

Three Tuareg separatist groups occupying the northern town of Kidal signed the agreement after talks with the chairman of the African Union.

Violence broke out in Kidal last weekend when the Malian Prime Minister paid a visit to show support for government forces.

Rebels seized government buildings, killing at least eight civilians and taking around 30 hostages.

On Wednesday, government forces attempted to retake Kidal sparking clashes that left around 20 soldiers dead. Malian soldiers retreated with rebels claiming victory.

The separatists have gained control of several other towns northern Mali in recent days.

The ceasefire agreement includes a pledge to revive talks, an independent inquiry into what happened in Kidal and the release of 300 Tuareg prisoners.