Officials: Malians displaced by Tuareg strikes

AP News
Posted: Mar 17, 2012 12:08 PM
Officials: Malians displaced by Tuareg strikes

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in Mali after Tuareg rebels began attacking towns, the Red Cross and an Algerian official said.

Algeria's official news agency reported Saturday that Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia said that 30,000 Malians, including wounded soldiers, had sought refuge from the conflict in Algeria.

The Red Cross said Friday that 72,000 people have been displaced in Mali, and that tens of thousands have fled into neighboring Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger.

The Red Cross said it started distributing food and essential household items Friday to more than 28,000 displaced people in the vicinity of Menaka, the first town attacked by Tuareg rebels in mid-January.

The Tuareg rebel group the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad says it is fighting for the independence of Mali's north.

A group calling itself Ansar Dine, which says it wants Sharia law in Mali, released a video this week saying it too had taken part in attacks claimed by the NMLA.