UN Security Council sanctions al-Qaeda linked Mali Islamists


United Nations: The United Nations (UN) Security Council Thursday ordered sanctions against an Al-Qaeda linked Islamist group operating in Northern Mali, in order to support the country’s government to retake North from the militant groups.

The MUJAO, a splinter group of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has battled with Tuareg rebels for control of northern Mali and, with AQIM, is holding at least 13 foreigners hostage.

Militant groups including the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) are controlling an area in Northern Mali, which is more than the territory of France.

The militant groups have implemented strict Shariah principles in the area including the amputations of hands of thieves and stoning of couples involved in sexual activities.

The al-Qaeda-linked militant group was added to the UN’s list of Al-Qaeda groups and individuals hit with a global assets freeze and travel ban.

The move comes as the UN security council debates authorising an international military operation in Mali against the Islamists.

AQIM has been listed for sanctions since 2001.

“It grew considerably in its first 12 months of operation,” said a security council statement setting out the reasons for the listing.

“MUJAO’s leaders are known to be drug traffickers, involved in the drug trade in the Sahel.”

The UN statement said the group had seized heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, explosives and other military equipment from Mali military arsenals since moving into the country.

Meanwhile, Mali on Wednesday appealed to the Security Council to urgently approve an international force against the Islamist militants.