LOME, Togo, June 8 (UPI) -- Members of the Economic Community of West African States said they were looking for U.N. backing to send troops into Mali to address a looming crisis.
Rebel Capt. Amadou Sanogo led the overthrow of the civilian government in Mali in March. Military leaders were said to be frustrated with northern rebels, who've since declared autonomy for their part of the country.
Amnesty International, in a 32-page report published last month, said there was mass displacement, arbitrary detention, sexual violence and the use of child soldiers among rebel forces in the north of the country.
Members of the Economic Community of West African States had said it was considering sweeping sanctions against Mali if Sanogo refused to address lingering security and political concerns in the country.
ECOWAS, in a statement from Togo, said it "strongly condemned" acts of violence perpetrated by armed groups in northern Mali.
"Due to this flagrant violation of human rights, the serious humanitarian situation and its consequences on regional and international peace and security, the Heads of State and government reiterated their decision to send troops to Mali," the organization said in a statement.
The organization said it was preparing a stand-by force for deployment and may seek approval to send troops into Mali under a Chapter VII resolution of the U.N. Security Council.