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Niger Tuaregs to lay down arms

LIBYA, August 19 – Tuareg rebels fighting the government in Niger say they are laying down their arms, as part of peace talks brokered by Libya.

The announcement was made by the Tuareg rebel leader, Aghaly ag Alambo, following a meeting in Libya with the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

Alambo said he was also speaking for Tuareg rebels in neighbouring Mali – they would disarm too, he said.

The revolts by Tuareg nomads broke out last year in the two Saharan countries.

The government of Niger has welcomed Mr Alambo’s statement and Libya’s peacemaking efforts.

Following his meeting with Mr Gaddafi in southern Libya, Mr Alambo said he also spoke on behalf of the leader of the Tuareg rebellion in neighbouring Mali, Ibrahim Ag Bahanga.

The Tuareg are an historically nomadic people living in the Sahara and Sahel regions of North Africa.

Tuareg militants in Mali and Niger have been engaged in sporadic armed struggles for several decades.

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But analysts are divided over whether the Tuareg revolts have been driven by genuine political grievances or efforts to defend control of drugs, arms and migrant-smuggling routes.

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