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U.N. Council Refuses to Back Mali Intervention Force

The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday held back support for an African intervention force in Mali, where rebels and al-Qaida allies have taken over the north of the country.

Unrest in Mali, tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, a coup in Guinea-Bissau and Somalia's troubled transitional government dominated annual talks between the U.N. Council and the African Union's Peace and Security Council.

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North Mali Rebels Clash, Five Injured

Five people were seriously injured in fighting between Tuareg and Islamist rebels in northern Mali Wednesday, officials said.

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Tuareg Rebels, Islamists, Clash in Northern Mali

Rebel Tuareg fighters of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) clashed with Islamist fighters from the Ansar Dine groups overnight in northern Mali, witnesses said Friday.

"Fighters of the MNLA and those of Ansar Dine clashed overnight Thursday to Friday on the outskirts of Kidal," an official from the rebel-held town told Agence France Presse by phone.

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Amnesty: Rebels, Soldiers in North Mali Commit Rights Abuses

Amnesty International said Wednesday that armed Tuaregs and Islamists, who seized northern Mali after a coup, had carried out grave rights abuses such as rape, murder and using child soldiers.

A report released by the London-based rights group said soldiers had also carried out extrajudicial killings, branding the crisis Mali's worst human rights situation in 50 years.

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West Africa Envoys Quit Mali

Two West African envoys quit Mali Saturday after failing to reach agreement with coup leaders on naming the head of a transitional government.

Ivory Coast envoy Adama Bictogo said prior to departure that talks with the ex-junta, who staged a coup on March 22, concerning the post of interim leader had failed.

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Islamic Extremists Desecrate Saint's Timbuktu Tomb

Members of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb have desecrated a saint's tomb in the fabled city of Timbuktu, an official said on Saturday.

"Members of AQIM, supported by (the armed Islamist group) Ansar Dine, have destroyed the tomb of Saint Sidi (Mahmoud Ben) Amar. They set fire to the tomb," the official told Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity, adding that they had pledged to destroy others too.

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Qaida 'Dominates' North Mali

An offshoot of al-Qaida now dominates northern Mali, which fell into rebel hands in March, regional security sources said Saturday as authorities struggled to assert control in the capital Bamako.

"Today it is al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb which occupies a dominant position in the three areas of northern Mali thanks to its alliance with the Islamic Ansar Dine group and the influx of Tunisian, Libyan and Moroccan fighters," a Mauritanian source told Agence France Presse.

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Mali ex-Junta Says Counter-Coup Defeated

The soldiers who staged a putsch in Mali five weeks ago said early Tuesday they had defeated an overnight counter-coup by forces loyal to ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure.

Gunfire had erupted at the national TV and radio station, the airport and at the garrison town near the capital Bamako that is the headquarters of the rebel soldiers led by Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo.

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Mali Ex-junta Chief Rejects West African Troop Deployment

The captain who led a coup in Mali last month before handing power back to a civilian president rejected Saturday the decision by West African states to send troops.

"All the decisions announced in Abidjan were reached without consulting us," Amadou Haya Sanogo told reporters. "I do not agree with the deployment of soldiers from the Economic Community of West Africa States", or ECOWAS.

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Mali's Interim PM Forms Government

Mali's interim prime minister Cheick Modibo Diarra on Wednesday formed a government of 24 members, including three representatives of the military.

The three will hold the defense, interior and civil protection portfolios in the west African country where the military seized power in a coup last month before relinquishing control under a deal brokered by west African bloc ECOWAS, said an official speaking on condition of anonymity.

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