US Calls on Mali Rebels to Cease Offensive

Posted April 3rd, 2012 at 2:25 pm (UTC-5)
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The United States is urging rebels in northern Mali to “cease military operations” that it says are compromising the country's territorial integrity.

In a statement Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also urged “all parties” in the north to ensure the safety and security of people in the region.

Since launching a new rebellion in mid-January, Tuareg fighters have wrested control of Mali's major northern cities from the military. The rebels are fighting alongside an Islamist group, Ansar Dine, that is believed to have links to al-Qaida.

Malian soldiers complained they were not properly equipped to fight the rebels and launched a successful coup in Bamako on March 22, led by Captain Amadou Sanogo.

The United States Tuesday expressed “deep concern” about the crisis and warned Mali's political institutions will be further weakened if the junta does not restore the constitution and return power to civilians.

Washington called on the armed rebels to engage in dialogue with civilian leaders in order to resolve the crisis and hold national elections.

Democratically elected President Amadou Toure is currently under the protection of his presidential guard at an undisclosed location near the capital, Bamako.