US to Mali: Let West African Troops Help Battle Militants

Posted October 1st, 2012 at 11:35 am (UTC-5)
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The United States is urging Mali to allow West African troops in the country, to help battle al-Qaida-linked militants in the north.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson says extremists must not be allowed to create a separate state.

“We do not need to see a fragmentation of Mali. We do not need to see a Mali which has a Caliphate in the north,” Carson told VOA.

The United Nations is currently considering a request to approve a West African military force for Mali.

The proposal calls for troops with the regional bloc ECOWAS to help government forces recapture the north.

However, some political leaders in Mali object to the presence of an ECOWAS force in the capital, Bamako.

Tuareg separatists and Islamist militants seized northern Mali after a March coup that left the government and military in disarray. The militants have since driven out separatist rebels.

Carson says the terrorists are too powerful for Mali's transitional civilian government.

Since seizing the north extremists groups have started imposing a hardline version of Islamic law.

The militants have carried out public stonings, floggings, amputations, destroyed historic sites, recruited children and banned all non-Islamic music.

Human Rights Watch says the groups are guilty of grave human rights abuses that violate international law.