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Mali militants say they will not give up harsh law

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — One of the three Al Qaeda-linked groups controlling northern Mali said Wednesday it would not give up its harsh form of Islamic law, appearing to offer little ground in last-ditch talks meant to avert a military intervention to take back the region.

Members of Ansar Dine said they are willing to allow the rest of Mali to be governed by a different set of rules, but spokesman Mohamed Ag Aharib told reporters that asking his group to relinquish ­Sharia law in the area under their control is like asking them to give up being Muslim.

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Ansar Dine is believed to be the most moderate of the three groups. Representatives have been meeting with Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, who has been appointed as a mediator, but the group’s unbending stance on Sharia casts doubt on whether the effort can make headway.

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