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U.N. sanctions Mali al-Qaida branch

Dec. 7, 2012 at 9:58 AM

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The U.N. Security Council adopted sanctions targeting an affiliate of al-Qaida that claimed control over part of northern Mali this year.

The Security Council announced it added the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa to its list of al-Qaida affiliates subject to assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargoes.

In mid-November, the militant group, known by its initials MUJAO, took control over Menaka in northern Mali following heaving fighting with the forces from the separatist Tuareg movement. An al-Qaida spokesman told Voice of America then that nearly 100 members of the rival force were killed.

MUJAO later that month took credit for the kidnapping of a French national.

The Economic Community of West African States is pushing for U.N. approval for a neutral force to help restore security and territorial integrity to Mali.

Jeffrey Feltman, undersecretary-general for political affairs at the United Nations, said after a Security Council briefing that "a first step" would be ensuring authorities in Mali have an inclusive dialogue with the goal of restoring order and territorial integrity. Force, he said, should be "a last resort."

U.S. military officials, meanwhile, expressed concern that Mali evolve as an operations base for regional al-Qaida affiliates.

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