World Bulletin / News Desk
Tuareg rebels in northern Mali said on Monday they had captured two senior Islamist insurgents fleeing French air strikes toward the Algerian border, and France pressed ahead with its bombing campaign against Saharan desert camps.
Pro-autonomy Tuareg MNLA rebels said they had seized Mohamed Moussa Ag Mohamed, an Islamist leader from Timbuktu, and Oumeini Ould Baba Akhmed.
"We chased an Islamist convoy close to the frontier and arrested the two men the day before yesterday," Ibrahim Ag Assaleh, spokesman for the MNLA, told Reuters from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. "They have been questioned and sent to Kidal."
France has deployed 3,500 ground troops, and warplanes and armoured vehicles in its three-week-old Operation Serval (Wildcat) in Mali which has broken the Islamists' 10-month grip on northern towns.
The MNLA regained control of its northern stronghold of Kidal last week when Islamist fighters fled French airstrikes into the nearby desert and rugged Adrar des Ifoghas mountains.
The Tuareg group has offered to hold peace talks with the government in a bid to heal wounds between Mali's restive Saharan north and the black African-dominated south.
"Until there is a peace deal, we cannot hold national elections," Ag Assaleh said, referring to interim Malian President Dioncounda Traore's plan to hold polls on July 31.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said warplanes were continuing bombing raids in Mali's far north.Last Mod: 04 Şubat 2013, 14:56