Race riots break out in northern Mali

July 20, 2013 at 4:10 PM

KIDAL, Mali, July 20 (UPI) -- At least one person has been killed in race-based rioting in the northern Mali town of Kidal ahead of elections next week, the government said.

It wasn't immediately clear what set off the armed clash between Tuareg rebels and blacks in Kidal, the BBC reported Friday.

Tuaregs are a lighter skinned Islamic ethnic group that briefly allied with al-Qaida as the terrorist group sought to establish control over northern Mali. The partnership crumbled when al-Qaida took control of the region.

When French forces intervened to beat back al-Qaida, Tuareg rebels were allowed to remain in Kidal but were supposed to disarm.

Tuaregs form a majority of the Kidal population.

The BBC said rebels opened fire on a group of blacks and killed one person. Black-owned shops in the town were burned.

Presidential elections have been scheduled in Mali for July 28 to re-establish civilian control after a 2012 military coup toppled the government and led to al-Qaida's rise in the north.

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