In Mali, authorities have started questioning suspected rebel soldiers in the central town of Mopti.
Eight suspects have been brought to Mopti’s prison from Gao: six Malians, one Nigerian and an Algerian.
The men have been linked to the rebellion that was sweeping the country before French-led forces intervened in mid-January.
According to the Alfossini Diop, Attorney General in Mopti, all the men admitted to being members of Islamist militant groups, some linked to al Qaeda.
“Some of them were discovered by civilians and they had weapons of war on them,” Diop said.
A coalition of armed groups took control of much of northern Mali, including Timbuktu and Gao, last year.
The MNLA, a group that wants autonomy for northern Mali, said on Monday that it had captured two senior Islamist insurgents.
The organisation was part of Mali’s rebel coalition, but was pushed aside by better-armed Islamist groups. The MNLA now says it is willing to help the French.
After three weeks of French air strikes, many rebels are retreating to the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains bordering Algeria.