Monday, March 10, 2008

Remaining Mali hostages freed

From The Times:
Tuareg rebels in northern Mali have released the last 22 government soldiers they took hostage in August, President Amadou Toumani Toure’s office said yesterday.

"The presidency is pleased to announce to the nation that the last 22 soldiers taken in the northeast were released on the night of March 7," a statement said.

The statement highlighted the "great contribution" played by Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, who wields considerable influence with the nomadic Tuareg people, as well as the "precious help" of Algeria, which brokered the peace accord between the main rebel group and Bamako.

In total, some 50 hostages including other civilians were taken by a breakaway rebel faction led by Ibrahim Ag Bahanga, whose men clashed with the army earlier this year following the mainstream group’s signing of peace pacts with the government.

In September, Ag Bahanga released a first hostage group of five civilians and two soldiers following Algerian mediation.

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