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UN "gravely" concerned about military movements in Mali
The UN Security Council is gravely concerned about the military movements of rebel groups along the frontline in northern Mali, said a statement released here after a consultation on Thursday night.
Members of the 15-nation body expressed their "grave concern" over the reported military movements and attacks by terrorist and extremist groups, in particular their capture of the city of Konna, a central town of 50,000 people some 700 km northeast of capital Bamako, the statement said.
The renewed confrontations erupted days ago after the Malian government and an Islamist rebel group called Ansar Dine failed to reach any deal over the crisis.
"This serious deterioration of the situation threatens even more the stability and integrity of Mali and constitutes a direct threat to international peace and security," said the statement.
The Security Council reiterated in the statement its call on member states to "assist the settlement of the crisis and, in particular, to provide assistance to the Malian Defense and Security Forces in order to reduce the threat posed by terrorist organizations and associated groups."
Voicing its determination to "pursue the full implementation of its resolutions on Mali," the council called for a rapid deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).
Last month, the UN Security Council agreed to authorize AFISMA, with 3,300 soldiers deployed, to support Mali in its fight against terrorists and armed rebel groups.
In the Thursday statement, the council also called for "the immediate issuance of an agreed political roadmap, which includes serious negotiations with non-extremist Malians in the north and presses for the full restoration of democratic governance."
Mali, a former French colony, has been struggling to stay as one united nation since a military coup in March last year, when hard-line Islamists and Tuareg rebel forces seeking an independent homeland took advantage of the chaos and seized control of the north.
The violence has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes so far. There are now over 412,000 displaced persons in the land-locked West African country.
The Malian government and rebel groups are expected to meet for peace talks in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, on Jan. 21.
[Source: Xinhua, United Nations, 10Jan13]
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