US Condemns Attacks in Northern Mali

Posted February 2nd, 2012 at 6:50 pm (UTC-5)
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The United States has condemned attacks by armed groups on towns in northern Mali.

A spokeswoman for the State Department, Victoria Nuland, told reporters in Washington Thursday that the United States is concerned about the continued violence in northern Mali towns. She called for a resumption of dialogue toward a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict.

Hundreds of protesters set up barricades and burned tires Thursday in the capital of Mali, following clashes between army troops and Tuareg rebels. Demonstrators brought Bamako to a virtual halt, as they protested the government's handling of a rebellion that has seized several northern towns.

Mali's President Amadou Toumani replaced his defense and security ministers Thursday evening in an apparent effort to placate the demonstrators.

Sadio Gassama became the new defense minister while Natie Plea became the new security minister, according to a presidential decree.

On Wednesday, Malians attacked a Tuareg business and the home of a Tuareg family in the town of Kati. Later, President Amadou Toumani Toure delivered a televised address urging civilians to shun acts of retaliation.

Tuareg rebels launched a new rebellion in the north on January 17. Since then, troops have clashed with rebels in several northern towns, including Aguelhok, where military officials say dozens of soldiers were killed.

Hundreds of ethnic Tuaregs recently returned to northern Mali from Libya, where they fought alongside troops loyal to ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The government of Mali has been holding talks in recent months in an effort to defuse rising tensions in the north.

Tuareg rebels say they are seeking independence from the southern-based government, which they say has ignored Mali's impoverished northern desert region.

Tuareg nomads are present throughout the Sahel region of Africa. Both Mali and Niger have battled Tuareg uprisings in the last decade.