Posted: Thursday 24th January 2013 at 11:20 am

Mali Islamist rebel group splits, splinter ready for talks

BAMAKO (AFP) – Mali’s Islamist Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith) rebel group, which holds swathes of the country’s vast desert north, has split and the breakaway faction said Thursday it was ready for peace talks.

*Nigerian soldiers on intervention mission to Mali.

*Nigerian soldiers on intervention mission to Mali.

The newly-formed Islamic Movement for Azawad said in a statement that it “rejected all forms of extremism and terrorism and was committed to fighting them”, adding that it wanted a “peaceful solution” to the Mali crisis.

The statement said the new group, was composed entirely of Malian nationals.

It called on “Malian authorities and France to cease hostilities in the zones that we are occupying in the north-eastern regions of Kidal and Menaka to create a climate of peace which will pave the way for an inclusive political dialogue.”

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