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Mali prosecutors issue warrants for rebel leaders


Malian prosecutors said Friday they had issued international arrest warrants for leaders of Tuareg and Islamist rebel groups who seized the country's north and are now the targets of a French-led military intervention.

"The crimes they are accused of are, among others, terrorism, war crimes, sedition, crimes against state security and territorial integrity via war, illegal use of arms, public looting and destruction, racial and religious crimes and international drug trafficking," they said in a statement read on state television.

The warrants target the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA), the group that unleashed Mali's descent into chaos in January 2012 when it launched a rebellion for an independent state for the Tuareg, a traditionally nomadic north African people who have long complained of being marginalised by the south.

They also target Islamist groups Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith), which hijacked the MNLA rebellion to seize control of the north before being routed by French-led troops.

The list includes MNLA leader Bilal Ag Acherif, Ansar Dine founder Iyad Ag Ghaly, MUJAO leader Cherif Ould Attaher, also known as Cherif Ould Tahar and Alghabasse Ag Intalla, the scion of a leading Tuareg family who recently broke away from Ansar Dine to found the splinter group the Islamic Movement for Azawad (MIA).