Ex-Tuareg leader Aghali Alambo in Niger arrest

Ex-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (C) at a ceremony in 2009 attended by Tuareg groups from Libya, Mali and Niger The late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (C) was close to the Tuareg groups of North Africa

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A former Tuareg rebel who became a close aide of ex-Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has been arrested by authorities in Niger.

Police said Aghali Alambo was suspected of involvement in smuggling arms and explosives from Libya.

Mr Alambo led a Tuareg uprising in Niger several years ago that ended after Libyan mediation.

Tuareg rebels in neighbouring Mali are currently fighting for an autonomous Azawad region in the north.

The Tuareg are a historically nomadic people, who live in the Sahara and Sahel regions of North Africa, and often complain that they are marginalised.

They have had militant groups in Mali and Niger engaged in sporadic armed struggles for several decades.

A source told the Reuters news agency: "Aghali Alambo will be questioned on charges of ties to criminal groups, financing terrorism, arms trafficking."

Mr Alambo led a Tuareg rebellion against the government of Niger from 2007 to 2009.

A peace accord was brokered by the former Libyan leader.

After the fighting ended, the former Tuareg rebel exiled himself in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, where he became one of Col Gaddafi's trusted aides.

Col Gaddafi died after being caught by rebel forces in his home town of Sirte in October.

Mr Alambo remained by the former Libyan leader's side until shortly before the fall of Tripoli last year.

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