Malian forces retreat from town amid rebel attacks

February 9, 2012 - 11:05 AM

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The Malian government says that its forces have left the town of Tin Zaouatene after repeated attacks from Tuareg rebels.

The Ministry of Defense said the retreat was ordered on Wednesday and was linked to a redeployment of forces. One government soldier had been killed in the fighting and two injured.

Members of a Tuareg rebel group began a series of attacks on towns in Mali Jan. 17, saying they are fighting for independence from the Malian government.

A rebel spokesman said the capture of Tin Zaouatene was a major victory. The town is about 140 miles (230 kilometers) east of Kidal, located on the border with Algeria.

Aid officials say at least 30,000 people are now displaced within Mali, and thousands of others have fled to neighboring countries.