Former Tuareg rebel group charged Mali's governing junta of "provocation" on Wednesday, alleging that military fighter planes flew close to four of their bases amid concerns of escalating violence.
The escalation came on the eve of a significant occasion: the anniversary of one of the main Tuareg factions' unilateral declaration of independence on April 6, 2012. This came when Salafists and independence militants joined forces to take control of important northern cities, notably Kidal.
The Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), the main alliance of former rebels in the north, accused Malian army fighter jets of "flying at deliberately provocative altitudes over its bases in Ber, Amassine, Anafis and Kidal in the midst of tensions linked to the stalled peace process".
Malian authorities have not responded to the charge.
The CMA is an alliance of predominantly Tuareg groups that battled against the Malian state before signing a peace agreement in 2015.
The agreement, however, is faltering.
The escalation came a day before the 11th anniversary of a proclamation of independence by insurgents after capturing major northern towns.
In a statement, signed Wednesday by spokesman Almou Ag Mohamed, the CMA described the "unfortunate" incident as a "clear violation" of a 2014 ceasefire and a "serious provocation".
Vast swathes of the north are under CMA control, a major irritant for the junta, which has made sovereignty its mantra.
The CMA in December announced that it, along with other armed groups, was suspending participation in the peace deal's implementation, accusing authorities of lacking political will.
In January, the alliance announced it was withdrawing from the commission in charge of finalising a draft new constitution.
International mediators, especially Algeria, have for weeks worked to bring the two sides closer together.
Mali is in the throes of an 11-year-old security crisis.
The regional revolt in the north later developed into a full-blown jihadist insurgency.
Since August 2020, the Sahel country has been ruled by the military.