At least seven dead in north Mali clashes

A Tuareg man holds the flag of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MLNA) during a demonstration on July 28, 2013 in Kidal (AFP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard)

Bamako (AFP) - At least seven people were killed Thursday in clashes between rival armed Tuareg groups and their allies in northern Mali, several sources told AFP.

"There were at least seven dead on both sides and several injured," said an African military source from the MINUSMA UN mission in Mali.

A health worker in N'Tilit said they had initially counted seven dead.

The fighting took place around 130 kilometres (80 miles) south of Gao, the main town in northern Mali, and lasted more than six hours, according to the source.

The fighters were reportedly from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and a rival movement known by its French acronym GATIA.

The GATIA fighters drove the MNLA away and took over the town of N'Tilit, the military source said.

The MNLA is one of six northern armed groups taking part in peace talks, which started last July, with the Malian government in neighbouring Algeria.

The GATIA, created in August, was seeking to control a territorial base in order to join the negotiations, according to the military source.