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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.

    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.

    Associated Press