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Niger Rebels Release 30 Wounded Government Soldiers


Tuareg rebels in northern Niger have released 30 wounded government soldiers they seized last week during a raid on a military outpost.

The president of the rebel Niger Movement for Justice (NMJ), Aghaly Ag Alambo, told VOA that the soldiers departed a rebel camp Thursday with workers from the International Red Cross.

The rebels' Web site says the workers are headed to the town of Arlit for medical treatment.

A total of 15 Niger government soldiers were killed and 72 others taken hostage when the rebels attacked the outpost in the town of Tezirzayt last Friday.

The Niger Movement for Justice emerged earlier this year, saying the government has not lived up to a 1995 accord that was designed to end a Tuareg rebellion.

Members of the Tuareg ethnic group staged an uprising for greater autonomy during the early 1990s.

The mostly nomadic Tuareg live throughout the Sahara Desert region in Niger, Mali, Algeria, and Libya.

In their statement Thursday, the NMJ accused Niger's army of rounding up more than 250 people who they say have subsequently disappeared. There has been no comment from Niger's government.

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