- Mali's Tuareg rebels have pleaded for Algerian mediation after government forces rejected a ceasefire proposal pledged last Sunday. The Malian army has refused to suspend its offensive in the northern part of the country against the rebels, saying it's the rebel's defense strategy when the war weighs heavily on them.
Head of the Tuareg North-Mali Alliance for Change (ATNM), Ibrahim Ag Bahanga said the government has waged attacks, which also threatens lives of civilians on the north.
The ATNM asked for a military presence in the area of Tinzaouatène, at the border with Algeria. But the government refused saying the area is used as a transit route for international drug trafficking.
The government troops started a security operation early January in the northeastern regions of the country to defeat Mr Ag Bahanga's group, considered to be the most radical of the Tuareg rebellion.
Although both the Tuaregs and the Malian government signed a peace deal in 2006 in Algiers and another the following year, sporadic clashes have continued in the north of the country.
Mr Ag Bahanga has long opposed the accords signed in Algiers in 2006, which demanded the rebels' commitment to no longer claim an autonomous statute for northern Mali if the government commits to speed up the development of the three northern regions of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu.
The Tuaregs are a nomadic desert people who have lived in the southern Sahara for centuries. In recent years they have staged uprisings in both Mali and Niger, claiming autonomy for their traditional homeland.
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