Fighting has broken out in northern Mali with Tuareg rebels saying they have taken control of the town of Bamba from the army.

This is coming after the separatist fighters said they had killed more than 80 soldiers in the centre of the country.

The government also confirmed an army base in the Mopti region had been targeted on Thursday, but gave no details.

It was gathered that the upsurge in violence comes as the United Nations, UN peacekeepers, deployed to Mali in 2013, withdraw on the orders of the junta.

An alliance of Tuareg groups, including the Co-ordination of Azawad Movements, CMA, in a statement said it had now taken control of the area around Bamba, a town on the left bank of the River Niger between the cities of Timbuktu and Gao.