- Libya authorities have began the repatriation of hundreds of Nigerien Tuareg rebel fighters, the latest sign of progress in pacifying Niger's north after two years of revolt.
Local reports said in the last 48 hours, 386 rebels have been flown back to the town of Agadez, in Niger's north.
The fighters who defected from MNJ, launched an uprising in 2007 calling for more representation for the nomadic Tuareg people and a greater share of the minerals mined in Niger's north, where they live.
The rebels had laid down their weapons in Libya, a country that they used as a base but also acted as mediator to end the conflict in the uranium miner.
Tuaregs in neighbouring Mali have also been fighting their government over the last few years. Both rebellions can be traced back to failures to end similar uprisings in the two countries in the 1990s.
Niger's President Mamadou Tandja earlier this year accepted Libyan help in ending the conflict and has agreed to amnesty for all rebels who disarm. President had initially dismissed the rebels as bandits and smugglers.
Two rebel factions have agreed to disarm while a third, the FFR led by Rhissa Ag Boula, has said it wants to join the peace process but is not yet ready to lay down its weapons.
The violence in Niger's north closed down the tourism industry and threatened mining operations.
French nuclear giant, Areva, plans to open a 1.2 billion euro uranium mine in Niger, making the desert state a leading global uranium exporter.
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