UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- There's a very real threat that fighting in Mali could cross borders and engulf neighboring countries, the U.N. envoy for West Africa said.
The French government responded Jan. 11 to a request by Mali for military action to help thwart the advance of foreign and al-Qaida militants from northern Mali. Control over the north was lost to militants shortly after a military coup in early 2012.
Said Djinnit, U.N. special envoy for West Africa, said ongoing conflict in Mali was creating regional concerns.
"As developments unfold in Mali, the risks for infiltration and destabilization are real in some of the countries bordering Mali, as illustrated by the efforts of neighboring countries to tighten security along the borders," he told the U.N. Security Council.
Libya tightened its security after al-Qaida militants attacked an energy complex in Algeria. Al-Qaida's attack was seen as a response to the Malian crisis.
French forces have helped push militants further north as fighting enters its second week. The U.S. and British governments are providing logistical support for French operations.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking at last week's World Economic Forum, said the French were right to intervene in Mali. He said that apart from Mali, however, the international community was "in the midst of a long struggle against murderous terrorists and the poisonous ideology that supports them."