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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2008, 17:45 GMT
Tuareg rebels abduct town's mayor
A Tuareg man
A renewed Tuareg rebellion began last August
Tuareg rebels in Niger have attacked a town killing or abducting several people in the biggest raid in recent months.

The rebels say they abducted 11 people, including the mayor, from Tanout, 900km north-east of the capital, Niamey.

They are fighting for more autonomy and a better share of the profits from uranium mining.

The West African regional body Ecowas is increasingly concerned and is to hold a summit soon to tackle the issue.

They will also consider a smaller rebellion in neighbouring Mali.

BBC West Africa correspondent Will Ross says this attack by the rebels of the Niger Movement for Justice appears to be a strong warning intended to dissuade people from siding with the government forces.

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Earlier this month in messages broadcast over state radio, the government called on the people of Niger to report any suspected rebels or rebel supporters to the authorities.

On their website, the rebels say the mayor had ordered people to report anybody suspected to be supporting the rebellion.

The rebels add that they left with a large quantity of ammunition and arms, having set military and civilian vehicles ablaze.

About 50 government troops have been killed over the past year and the rebels are now believed to be holding 30 soldiers captive.

Our reporter says a government offensive shows little sign of success.

So in some parts of Niger there are growing calls for President Mamadou Tandja to reconsider his position and to negotiate with the rebels.

SEE ALSO
Tuareg conflict spreads to Mali
28 Aug 07 |  Africa
Q&A: Tuareg unrest
07 Sep 07 |  Africa

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