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Protest turns violent in Mali as tensions rise

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GAO, Mali (AP) — Witnesses say demonstrators protesting against an intensifying rebellion in northern Mali now have attacked shops owned by ethnic Tuaregs and Arabs.

Monday's violence in the town of Gao underscores the challenges facing Mali more than a year after a French-led war to oust extremists from power.

The protest began after Tuareg separatists kidnapped 30 civil servants in the town of Kidal. Monday's rally was meant to denounce that violence and encourage Malian soldiers to try to retake control of Kidal.

But Sidi Amar, an Arab merchant in Gao, said the protesters began attacking businesses. Merchants fled to an army base, fearing for their lives.

Arabs and Tuaregs have been slain by black Malians who blamed them for the unrest that gripped Mali in 2012 and 2013.

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