Rebels began a series of attacks on towns in Mali on 17 January, saying they were fighting for independence. A rebel spokesman yesterday said they had captured Tin Zaouatene, about 140 miles east of Kidal on the border with Algeria.
Aid officials say at least 30,000 people are now displaced within Mali, and thousands of others have fled to neighbouring North African countries.
The Tuaregs, a nomadic people who range across the Sahara, have risen up against the central government in Mali several times since independence from France in 1960. January’s uprising ended years of relative peace, and is being fuelled by the return of Tuaregs from Libya who fought for Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi’s army.