Mali declares “war” on rebels after abduction of 50 civil servants

Mali's Islamist rebels

At least 23 soldiers were injured in the attack.

Mali’s prime minister, Moussa Mara, has said his country is at “war” with rebels in the country’s north, after militants attacked a town he was visiting Saturday, killing soldiers and abducting around 30 civil servants, Reuters news agency reports.

The government workers were kidnapped in Kidal. At least 23 government soldiers were also wounded in the attack, the report says.

“In light of this declaration of war, the Republic of Mali is henceforth at war,” Mr. Mara was quoted by Reuters as saying.

“We are going to formulate the appropriate response to the situation,” he added.

Mali has been in turmoil since 2012 after a military coup allowed Islamist rebels to seize large swathes of its desert north, an uprising that ended after former colonial power, France, intervened militarily.

The country’s new leadership has struggled to exert authority on the army, and to regain full control of the north that came close to seceding at the height of the 2012 rebellion.

Fighting broke out in Kidal early on Saturday ahead of the arrival of Prime Minister Moussa Mara, Reuters said. Mr. Mara was visiting the town for the first time since his appointment in April, as he sought to restart peace talks with the armed groups in the north.

The report quotes a source as saying that the fighting started after MNLA fighters aboard two pick-up trucks attacked an army checkpoint. The group accused the army of attacking first.

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