Bamako - A miner says that armed men closed a large salt mine in northern Mali by forcing more than 800 workers to leave.
Hama Ould El Hilla, a worker at the Taoudenie salt mine, said that eight men with AK-47 rifles arrived in a vehicle with a mounted gun and ordered the miners to leave.
Hilla, speaking on the telephone from Timbuktu, said about 200 of the miners arrived at Timbuktu, which is 750km south of the mine. He said the rest of the miners are travelling to Timbuktu.
He said the gunmen did not identify themselves.
Northern Mali has had considerable trouble from Tuareg and Arab separatists.
In 2012 northern Mali was occupied by Tuareg and Islamic extremist rebels who were eventually chased away by French troops.