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Reports: Malian Army, Rebels Guilty of Recent Abuses

New reports say both the Malian army and rebel groups are guilty of recent human rights abuses, including arbitrary detentions, torture and in some cases, killings.

In separate reports released Friday, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say most of the violence has occurred in the country's north where the army is trying to take areas held by the ethnic Tuareg separatist group MNLA .

Human Rights Watch says the MNLA arbitrarily detained about 100 people last week, most of them "darker-skinned men from non-Tuareg ethnic groups." The rights group says witnesses report that some of the detainees were robbed and severely beaten.

The rights groups say since early May, Malian soldiers have tortured or mistreated at least 24 suspected rebels or villagers in the central Mopti region. It said most detainees were ethnic Tuaregs or members of a Tuareg caste .

Amnesty International says that overall, dozens of people, including civilians, have disappeared, been tortured or killed since the start of the French-led intervention in Mali in January.

It says Malian security forces have carried out abuses that include extrajudicial executions of detainees who were suspected militants.

Amnesty says armed opposition groups, including the MNLA and the Islamist group known as MUJAO have committed atrocities that include sexual assaults and the use of child soldiers.

There is concern that the ongoing violence could disrupt elections set for July 28.

In recent days, Malian soldiers and MNLA rebels have clashed repeatedly as the army pushes towards Kidal, the only major town in the north that is not under government control.

The MNLA seized control of Kidal and surrounding areas earlier this year after French forces chased out Islamist militants who had ruled northern Mali for 10 months.

Regional negotiations aimed at ending Mali's crisis were to start in Burkina Faso on Friday, but have been postponed until Saturday. Officials have not said why the talks are being delayed.

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