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Mali separatists kill eight including six govt officials

Six Malian government officials and two civilians were murdered during an assault by Tuareg separatist rebels on a regional governor's office in the northern town of Kidal, the country's United Nations peacekeeping mission said on Sunday.

Malian soldiers train for an ambush at the EU training mission headquarters in Koulikoro in February Credit: REUTERS/Joe Penney

Albert Koenders, the head of the UN mission, said in a statement: "This barbaric crime is totally unacceptable and those responsible must answer for their actions."

"An inquiry must be carried out quickly in order to verify the facts and bring the responsible parties to justice."

Mali 'at war with separatists' after abductions

Mali is at war with armed Tuareg separatists, the country's Prime Minister said after officials reported the rebels had attacked a governor's office in the northern town of Kidal and abducted around 30 civil servants.

"Taking into account this declaration of war, the Republic of Mali is henceforth at war. We are going to formulate the appropriate response to the situation," PM Moussa Mara told Reuters.


'Thirty officials kidnapped in Mali attacks'

Around 30 civil servants have been abducted by separatists in Mali's northern town of Kidal during fighting that also wounded 23 government soldiers, the governor of the region has said.

"Some 30 of our civil servants were kidnapped by the assailants who attacked the governor's office. There were 23 wounded, including three seriously who were evacuated by helicopter," Adama Kamissoko told the Reuters news agency.

IMF questions Mali's purchase of £24m presidential jet

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has questioned the rationale and procedure that led to Mali buying a £24 million presidential jet, given the country's pledges to fight poverty, a spokesman said.

Men transport humanitarian food aid onto pirogues at Mopti, Mali. Credit: REUTERS/Alain Amontchi

The IMF has contacted Malian authorities about the plane purchase as well as a separate £124 million state guarantee loan secured by a private company with a Malian bank, to provide supplies for the army, the spokesman said.

The IMF spokesman added that the process of getting this information will delay the first review of its post-war aid package and, as a result, monetary disbursements will be delayed.

French journalists killed in Mali were shot

Two journalists from France kidnapped and killed in northern Mali were shot, French authorities say.

Ghislaine Dupont, 51, and Claude Verlon, 58, were abducted on Saturday after interviewing a rebel leader in Kidal.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the two were shot multiple times and their bodies were found near the vehicle that whisked them away.

But Mr Fabius failed to clarify who was behind the killings and why the pair was targeted.

France: Journalists 'coldly assassinated' in Mali

Two French journalists killed in northern Mali on Saturday were "coldly assassinated", France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius has said.

He added that "terrorists" were behind the "heinous and revolting" attack and security in the Kidal region of the west African country would be increased.

The bodies of French journalists Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont were found by a French patrol. Credit: APTN

Speaking after a special cabinet meeting to discuss the deaths, Mr Fabius said: "Security in the area and the surrounding areas, especially for French nationals, will be increased".


French army had 'no contact with Mali kidnappers'

The bodies of French journalists Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont were found by a French patrol. Credit: APTN

France's army never had any visual or physical contact with the gunmen who killed two French journalists in northern Mali on Saturday, an army official said.

Armed Forces spokesman Colonel Gilles Jarron said the bodies of the two reporters had been found by a French patrol some 10 kms (6 miles) to the east of Kidal after they were tipped off by a local resident that the journalists had been taken.

Two French helicopters arrived on the scene 50 minutes after the patrol found their bodies, he said. Earlier, several French media reports said a French helicopter had tracked the kidnappers's vehicles after the abduction.

The deaths come four days after France rejoiced at the release of four French citizens held for three years by al Qaida's affiliate in North Africa.

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