WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Washington said it was concerned about the security situation in Mali, where demonstrations forced authorities to block roads to the capital.
Fighting in Mali attributed to Tuareg rebels erupted in January when they returned from fighting alongside forces loyal to former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The simmering conflict, after years of peace, rekindled ethnic tensions between northern and southern Malians.
Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said Washington was "deeply concerned" about the violence centered in the country's north, stressing the government there should work toward peace.
The BBC reports roads to the capital city are blocked and most of the businesses closed early because security concerns.
Mali's President Amadou Toure called for calm as ethnic tensions simmer in the West African country.
"Those who attacked some military barracks and towns in the north must not be confused with our fellow Tuaregs, Arabs, Songhoi, Fulani, who live with us," he was quoted by the BBC as saying."They have the same rights and aspirations as us to live in peace."
The State Department, in an October travel warning, said it had "several" leads that suggested al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb was plotting to attack Western targets and has a particular interest in kidnapping Western nationals.