July 11, 2015 / 7:30 PM / in 2 years

Mali makes arrests linked to Islamist attacks: sources

BAMAKO (Reuters) - The Malian army captured two people linked to Islamist group Ansar Dine and seized evidence linking them to planned attacks, security sources said on Saturday.

Ansar Dine was part of an alliance of Islamist fighters that helped seize Mali’s desert north after a Tuareg uprising in 2012 but was ousted by a French military operation a year later.

The group this week claimed responsibility for a series of recent attacks across Mali’s south and west, including the capital Bamako, formerly deemed safe.

“An army patrol arrested two men in possession of military material and compromising documents,” said one of the sources, adding that the men were captured in the central region of Mopti and taken to Bamako.

He said the documents contained a message from Ansar Dine’s Tuareg leader Iyad Ag Ghali to an accomplice in the south about future attacks.

The southern accomplice has not yet been identified, he said, adding that others had been called in for questioning based on the intelligence gathered so far.

A second security source said a total of six people had been detained for questioning, including two women, part of a push to dismantle Ansar Dine’s network.

Armed groups and the Malian government signed a peace agreement in June designed to stop uprisings in the north, but Ansar Dine was not a signatory.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo and Adama Diarra; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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