Mali says army repelled Islamist attack

BAMAKO Tue Jan 8, 2013 3:49pm EST

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BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali's army repelled an attack on its advance positions on Monday by heavily armed Islamist groups who control the country's north, the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Islamist fighters who seized control of Mali's vast desert north in April have advanced towards government positions in the region of Mopti in recent days, sowing fears of a return to fighting after months of uneasy stalemate.

"The armed forces have driven off this attempted attack," said the ministry statement, read out on Malian radio and television.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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