Suspected Rebels Attack Army in Northern Malian Town

Tuareg separatist rebels attacked Malian army positions in the northern town of Dire on Saturday, as rising violence threatened to derail a U.N.-backed peace deal due to be signed this month. Dire lies southwest of the ancient desert trading outpost of Timbuktu and close to the town of Lere were nine soldiers were killed in an attack on Thursday claimed by the separatist rebel Coordination of Movements for Azawad. Violence pitting the CMA -- an umbrella organization of Tuareg and Arab separatist groups -- against the army and pro-government militia in recent days has violated a U.N-backed ceasefire deal.