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Aid groups: 15,000 flee Mali amid Tuareg rebellion

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Aid groups: 15,000 flee Mali amid Tuareg rebellion

Post  Admin on Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:53 pm

More than 15,000 people including Malian military personnel have fled into neighboring countries since members of the nomadic Tuareg ethnic group launched a new rebellion against the Malian government last month, aid officials say.

Some civilians are fleeing areas where fighting is taking place, while others fear there could be revenge attacks against those believed to be Tuareg. Already at least one Tuareg family's home has been attacked near the capital of Bamako.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says 10,000 people have crossed into Niger after fighting in towns just across the border, and the ICRC is preparing to provide food and shelter.

"Some of these people have been taken in by villagers, but the local capacity was very quickly overwhelmed," said Juerg Eglin, head of ICRC delegation for Niger and Mali.

Another 5,000 people have fled to Mauritania, according to an official who works at an international humanitarian organization based in Mauritania's capital. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to provide figures to the media.

The Tuaregs, a traditionally nomadic people spread across the Sahara Desert, have risen up against the central government in Mali several times since the country's independence from France in 1960.

The newest rebellion launched in January broke years of relative peace, and is being fueled by the return of Tuaregs from Libya who had fought in Moammar Gadhafi's army. In the last two weeks, the Tuareg group has attacked six towns spread out over more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) across Mali's vast north.


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