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Mali Rebels Release 30 Hostages

A fighter with the Tuareg separatist group MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) stands guard outside the local regional assembly, where members of the rebel group met with the Malian army, the UN mission in Mali and French army officers,
Rebels in northern Mali have released 30 hostages whom they captured on Saturday.

The United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali says Tuareg rebels handed over the 30 civil servants to peacekeepers on Monday.

The hostages were captured during a rebel attack on government offices in the northern town of Kidal that left at least six government officials dead.

The attack prompted Malian Prime Minister Moussa Mara to send troops into Kidal on Sunday. Clashes between government forces and separatists have so far killed at least 36 people on both sides.

Mali has been in turmoil since last year when a Tuareg rebellion touched off a coup in the capital, Bamako. The chaos led to a brief Islamist militant takeover in the north and prompted French and African troops to intervene.

Tuareg rebels took control of Kidal earlier this year after French and African forces drove out the Islamist militants.

Kidal is the stronghold for the Tuareg rebels who have been fighting for an independent ethnic Tuareg state in northern Mali.