Kidal mayor says 14 people dead in northern Mali after series of drone strikes near rebel stronghold

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — A series of drone strikes around the town of Kidal in northern Mali have killed at least 14 people in the rebel stronghold, the town's mayor said Tuesday.

Kidal Mayor Arbakane Ag Abzayack told The Associated Press that the town's deputy mayor and a local councillor were among the victims.

Residents say victims of the first drone strike Tuesday included children who had gathered in front of the former U.N. peacekeeping camp that was vacated a week ago. A second strike hit near an auction site.

The Malian army has not commented on the attacks, but a few days ago it announced that it had used drones to target terrorist positions in the former U.N. base in Kidal.

Violence is again spiking between ethnic Tuareg rebels and Mali’s military, prompting the U.N. to move up its departure once planned for mid-November.

Analysts say the violence signals the breakdown of a 2015 peace agreement signed between the government and the rebels. That deal was signed after Tuareg rebels drove security forces out of northern Mali in 2012 as they sought to create an independent state they call Azawad.