U.N. probing rights situation in Mali

Feb. 15, 2013 at 11:30 AM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- The United Nations confirmed Friday that a three-person team was on the ground in Mali to investigate potential violations of humanitarian law.

Cecile Pouilly, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said three investigators arrived in Bamako to investigate the situation there amid concerns about possible human rights violations. Four more are on their way.

"We reiterate our call on all parties to the conflict to abide by humanitarian law and international human rights and to prevent acts of revenge and retaliation," she said in a statement.

The British and U.S. militaries are providing logistical support for a French intervention in Mali. Bamako in January called on former colonial power France to help thwart the southern advance of militants who took control over north Mali early last year.

With pro-government forces pushing north, U.N. officials have expressed concern that some Malian troops may seek revenge on certain ethnic communities in the region.

Tuareg rebels who fought in the Libyan war are involved in northern fighting said to include members of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

The U.S. Treasury Department hit AQIM leader Yahya Abu Hamman with sanctions Thursday for his role in the Malian conflict.

"We ... remain determined to cut off the funding (AQIM) needs to recruit new members and carry out future terrorist attacks," Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said in a statement.

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