World Bulletin / News Desk
Northern Malian rebels captured 50 army soldiers since a deadly showdown erupted in the northern city of Kidal on Saturday, a rebel leader said on Thursday.
"We'll treat them well according to international law and our traditions," Belal Sharif, the secretary-general of the self-styled National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, was quoted by an independent Mauritanian news site as saying.
Azawad is the unofficial name of an area in northern Mali that extends into parts of Niger, Mauritania and Algeria. The area is mainly inhabited by ethnic Tuareq, who are sometimes referred to as Berbers. Tuareg say they want to establish their own state in this territory.
Sharif denied reports that his movement had executed army soldiers and civil servants who were present at an administrative building in Kidal on Saturday when confrontations erupted between the rebels and army soldiers.
He said that Tuareq seek dialogue with the Malian government.
"But this [the desire for dialogue] won't remain if the Malian army doesn't suspend violence," Sharif said, inviting the Malian government to engage in "serious" dialogue with the residents of Azawad.
He said rebels do not have plans to march toward more Malian cities as long as the army is not seeking "retaliation".
Tension erupted in Mali in 2012 following a failed coup and a Tuareg rebellion that ultimately allowed Al-Qaeda-linked groups to take over half of the country.
3,400 Malians flee Kidal: MINUSMA
Around 3,400 people have fled the northern Malian city of Kidal over fears of renewed clashes between army forces and Tuareq rebels, a source in the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said Thursday.
According to the source, some fleeing residents moved to the northern Malian city of Gao, while others headed to Algeria.
Tension erupted in Mali in 2012 following a failed coup and a Tuareg rebellion that ultimately allowed Al-Qaeda-linked groups to take over half of the country.Last Mod: 23 Mayıs 2014, 10:11