Civil servants and others formerly held hostage in Kidal, disembark a plane as they arrive in Bamako after their release on May 20, 2014. AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE
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Mali launched a military offensive Wednesday to retake control of a northern Tuareg separatist stronghold, the government said, and witnesses reported intense fighting with machine-gun and heavy weapons fire.Malian soldiers and Tuareg separatists clashed Saturday while Prime Minister Moussa Mara was visiting the town of Kidal.A Defense Ministry source said the army had begun an assault on the regional governor's office in Kidal after it was seized over the weekend by Tuaregs from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA).Attaye Ag Mohammad, an MNLA official in Kidal, accused the Malian army of starting the clashes and called on the U.N. mission and international community to press for a cease-fire.
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