A picture taken on May 17, 2014 shows an helicopter of the French army escorting a vehicule transporting Mali's Prime Minister Moussa Mara from Gao to Kidal. AFP PHOTO / Fabien Offner
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Mali sent troops on Monday to retake the rebel stronghold of Kidal after Tuareg separatists seized local government offices, taking hostages and engaging the army in a firefight in which dozens were killed.Eight soldiers and 28 insurgents died in fighting Saturday outside the regional governor's offices while around 30 civil servants were being held hostage by the militants, the government said.Kidal, 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) northeast of the capital Bamako, was the scene of anti-government protests by several hundred people on Friday and Saturday.Following a June peace deal that paved the way for presidential elections, the separatists evacuated the governor's offices in November last year after a nine-month occupation.Up until the agreement, the Tuareg group had refused to allow any government soldiers or civil servants into the desert town.
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