Rebels sign cease-fire
Mali’s government signed a cease-fire with a northern rebel faction Thursday, according to a government announcement on state radio.
The government of the West African nation and a group of ethnic Tuareg rebels have been holding talks in Libya since Monday. The Tuareg, a nomadic desert minority, sought economic development in the impoverished region where they live.
The government statement said the deal includes a cease-fire, a government pledge to decrease the number of soldiers in the north and a commitment by Libya to be involved in developing the region.
Rebel spokesmen could not be reached for comment.
On Wednesday, Mali’s military attacked rebel positions around the northern regional capital of Kidal, and local officials said two rebels were killed. Military officials declined comment.
A resident, Mohamed Yattara, said the fighting nearly emptied the streets because civilians stayed home out of fear.
Mali signed a peace deal with the Tuaregs last year to end an insurgency that reignited in 2006 after years of peace.
But one faction refused to sign, saying the pact did not do enough for the Tuareg. The group, led by Ibrahim Bahanga, has been blamed for attacks on military installations and for kidnapping soldiers and government security officers.