Tuareg rebels announce 'end of military operations' in Mali

A Tuareg rebel group in northern Mali on Wednesday announced an end to its military operations in the area.

“After the complete liberation of the Azawad territory and given the strong request by the international community”, the Tuareg separatist group Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA) “decides unilaterally to declare the end of military operations from midnight Thursday”, it said in a statement.

The statement was published on the movement’s website and signed in the northern town of Gao by its secretary general, Bilal Ag Acherif.

The MNLA called on countries in the region and the international community to “make sure that the Azawad people will (live) free from any Mali attacks”.

In the wake of a coup that ousted president Amani Toumani Toure on March 22, Tuareg rebels and Islamist groups took control at the end of last week of the key northern towns of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu, cutting the country in two.

Other developments:
** Junta stays put despite sanctions
** Mali postpones talks, Qaeda stokes fear
** U.N. condemns Mali coup
** Timbuktu: from city of myth to rebel stronghold
** Islamists impose sharia in Mali’s Timbuktu
** Who’s who?(map)

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