Mali releases 23 prisoners affiliated with rebels

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Mali’s justice minister says the government has released 23 prisoners of war affiliated with a movement of separatist Tuareg rebels who announced last week they were pulling out of a peace accord.

Mohamed Ali Bathily on Wednesday described the move as a “sign of appeasement” directed toward rebels from the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad.

The NMLA was among the rebel groups that took control of northern Mali following a March 2012 military coup.

The subsequent rise of extremist Islamic groups in the region prompted the French to launch a military intervention in January.

The June peace accord paved the way for July presidential elections. But the NMLA announced last month it was pulling out because the new government had failed to honor its commitments.

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