Trouble in Mali again: Thirty Malian soldiers killed in fighting with Tuareg separatists

Malian soldiers line up in a military camp in the northern town of Kidal, July 17, 2013. (Reuters)

Mali’s defense ministry said on Thursday that 30 soldiers were killed in clashes with Tuareg separatists, who claimed to have seized several towns in the north of the country.

The army had launched an offensive to retake control of the separatist stronghold of Kidal after clashes erupted while Prime Minister Moussa Mara was visiting the town on Saturday.

Tuareg separatists repulsed the attempt on Wednesday and on Thursday said they had taken more northern towns without a fight after government troops either abandoned their positions and sought refuge at the camps of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, or fled south, Reuters reported.