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Drug Trafficking Fueling Mali Conflict, Minister

Drug trafficking is a major problem fueling the conflict in Mali and impeding the peace process, the country's foreign minister said Thursday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

"Drug trafficking is really a major concern," Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told reporters after a U.N. meeting on Mali.

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Islamist in War Crimes Court This Week for Timbuktu Destruction

Alleged al-Qaida-linked Islamist leader Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi will make an initial appearance before the International Criminal Court on Wednesday, facing charges of ordering the destruction of monuments in Mali's fabled city of Timbuktu.

Faqi was handed over by Niger early Saturday to the ICC, where he is wanted for war crimes relating to the destruction of religious buildings and historical monuments in the ancient landmark.

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Study: Mali among the U.N.'s Deadliest Missions

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali is one of the deadliest missions in the history of the U.N. blue helmets, with 60 deaths, Stockholm research institute Sipri said Monday.

In its report "Fatality Trends in U.N. Peace Operations", the Stockholm  International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said a total of 1,938 U.N. soldiers had been killed since the first U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Middle East in 1948, but almost three-quarters of those were due to accidents or were natural deaths.

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Loyalist Fighters Clash with ex-Rebels in Mali

Fighters from Mali's former rebel alliance clashed with pro-government militias on Thursday in the restive northeastern region of Kidal, security sources and the opposing sides told AFP. 

The two groups accused each other of starting the fighting, breaching a peace deal signed by the governmental camp on May 15 and the rebels on June 20.

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Islamists Kill Policeman in Mali

Islamists from a group linked to a deadly hotel siege have attacked a police post in central Mali, killing an officer, military and local government sources said Sunday. 

"On Saturday, armed Islamists fired on three gendarmes in Bankass, at a security post," said a Malian army source in the regional capital Mopti, around 100 kilometers (60 miles) away, adding that one of the officers died.  

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Two Mali Soldiers Killed in Timbuktu Attack

Two Malian soldiers were killed Tuesday in a pre-dawn attack against an army checkpoint outside Timbuktu in northern Mali, the defense ministry and a U.N. source told AFP.

"We lost two men this Tuesday at about 3am (0300 GMT) at our checkpoint north of Timbuktu," a defense ministry official said. The attack by unknown assailants was confirmed by a security source at MINUSMA, the U.N. mission in the country.

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French Soldier Killed in Friendly Fire in Mali

A French soldier has been killed by a colleague in "accidental fire" in an army camp in Mali, the army said on Saturday. 

Marine Baptiste Truffaux was shot by a fellow soldier on Thursday at a camp in Gao. 

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Mali Rebels Pull out of Peace Accord's Monitoring Group

Tuareg rebels in northern Mali said Sunday they were pulling out of an international committee set up to monitor a peace accord between them and pro-government forces in the restive region, after deadly clashes between the rival groups sent tensions soaring.

Sidi Brahim Ould Sidati, a representative of the rebel Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) said his grouping was "suspending our participation in the monitoring group" until loyalist forces pull out of the town of Anefis, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of the CMA stronghold Kidal.

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U.N. Secures Mali Town as Clashes Threaten Tuareg Peace Deal

U.N. peacekeepers set up a security zone around the northern Mali town of Kidal on Tuesday to curb fighting between rival armed groups that threatened to torpedo a fragile peace deal.

Three days of clashes between pro-government militants and Tuareg rebels in the troubled region left several dead and led neighboring Niger to call off a round of reconciliation talks planned Wednesday.

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Several Killed in North Mali Clashes

Several people died on Monday in Mali's restive north in clashes pitting a pro-government Tuareg group and the main Tuareg rebel body, security sources said.

The fighting erupted at Agnefis, about 120 kilometers (74 miles) south of the strategic northern town of Kidal, "killing several people," a regional security source said.

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