BAMAKO: Lawmakers in Mali agreed Saturday to extend a state of emergency across the country by another eight months, officials told Agence France-Presse, as fresh violence flared in the restive northeast. MPs unanimously backed the extension—which has been renewed several times since last year—during an extraordinary session of the National Assembly, a parliamentary source said. “I want to reassure that the state of emergency contributes to the stability of the country” and preserves security, interior minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maiga told lawmakers. The state of emergency, which gives security services greater powers and restricts public gatherings, will last until March 29, 2017, public broadcaster ORTM said. The vote came as renewed violence broke out near Kidal in the northeast, where local sources said former Tuareg rebels were battling members of a pro-government armed group for control of the city.