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Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita cut short a visit to France on Tuesday and returned home to tackle fresh fighting in the north of the country between government forces and Tuareg rebels.
The Malian embassy in Paris confirmed that Keita was homeward bound after meeting with President Francois Hollande on the second day of what was meant to be a four-day visit.
“Obviously it has to do with the situation in the north,” an embassy official told dpa.
Tuareg rebels in the northeastern town of Kidal have been engaged in a standoff with government forces since Sunday. On Sunday night the two sides traded heavy gunfire.
The fighting eased on Monday after troops from the UN peacekeeping force MINUSMA intervened.
The rebels from the separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) complain they are being shortchanged by the government in talks on implementing a June peace deal.
That deal was aimed at addressing the long-running grievances that underpinned a Tuareg uprising in the north of the country in March 2012, which al-Qaeda-linked Islamists rode to power. - Sapa-dpa