A Tuareg-dominated rebel coalition said on Saturday it was holding prisoner 19 Malian government soldiers captured in fighting a day earlier, amid growing violence in the north that threatens to derail U.N.-brokered peace efforts.
Army sources confirmed that soldiers were missing following clashes late on Friday that saw the Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA) briefly seize the small town of Tessit, in Mali’s northern Gao region. They declined to give further details.
A spokesman for the CMA said its fighters had withdrawn from Tessit by Saturday morning, taking with them captured weapons, ammunition and the prisoners.
“They are Malian soldiers and there are 19 of them,” Almou Ag Mohamed told Reuters.