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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Government Forces Close in on Tuareg Rebels, MNJ

BAMAKO, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Tuareg rebels in northern Mali have agreed to free military hostages as government forces encircle their positions in a remote desert garrison town, a government source said on Wednesday.

Fighters loyal to insurgent chief Ibrahima Bahanga have besieged Tin-Zaouatene since last Friday following a flurry of raids against military targets in what appears to be a limited revival of the region's 1990s Tuareg rebellion.

The army had set up a cordon around Bahanga's positions, a military source said, while local officials and mediators from neighbouring Algeria extracted guarantees including the release of government soldiers and access for a demining team.

"There's nothing official but, from what has leaked out, the mediators have obtained from
Bahanga the liberation of the hostages, access for a team to demine the zone and a (temporary) cessation of hostilities," the government source said.
It was not immediately possible to contact the insurgents.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

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