|Mali Islamists threaten intervention force|
|Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:40|
Mali has been gripped by chaos since disgruntled troops swarmed the capital Bamako in the south in March and ousted the elected president of what had been seen as one of Africa’s model democracies.
In the ensuing weeks, Tuareg rebels and Islamist hardliners have taken over a stretch of northern Mali the size of Afghanistan.
The Islamists, also including Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, have since imposed an austere version of sharia law in northern Mali, and they have fallen out with the Tuareg.
Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States, or Ecowas, were meeting in Ivory Coast last Friday in a bid to end the crisis. The grouping is considering sending a military force of 3 300 troops to Mali.
Mujao warned that its branches “in several countries are ready to strike the interests of countries that intend to participate in the force of Ecowas”, spokesperson Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui said in a written message.
“The Mujao is committed to providing all kinds of material and military support for young Muslims determined to raise the banner of Islam. The scene today is open” for jihadists, said the statement sent to an AFP correspondent in the capital Bamako.
The West African leaders gathered last Friday in Yamoussoukro meanwhile called on the UN Security Council to speed up the adoption of a resolution authorising the regional force. The force requires international support for such an operation, and logistics support from the United States and France. A first draft was considered too imprecise by the UN Security Council, and Ecowas is reviewing the proposal. The heads of state meeting in the Ivorian capital renewed their “commitment to a peaceful settlement” but reiterated their decision to use armed intervention if necessary, according to the final statement. The Mujao, for its part, claimed responsibility last Friday for an attack in Algeria — against the regional headquarters of the paramilitary police in the town of Ouargla in which one person was killed and three were wounded. — AFP