U.N. defers decision on military intervention in Mali

Sacred tombs of Timbuktu destroyed
Sacred tombs of Timbuktu destroyed

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Story highlights

  • The U.N. Security Council also calls for sanctions against Islamist fighters
  • It says it is willing to review a proposal on military intervention
  • It seeks more details on an intervention request from West African states

The United Nations called for sanctions against Islamist fighters in northern Mali and warned it is considering a proposal by West Africa states to deploy troops in the troubled country.

In a resolution passed Thursday, the U.N. Security Council did not authorize a military intervention, but said it is willing to review such a proposal and called on sanctions to restore peace.

It also urged U.N. member states to submit names of those with ties to al Qaeda in the nation.

The Economic Community of West African States has proposed plans to deploy troops from member states, but the Security Council said it needs more details on the request.

"The council expressed its readiness to further examine this request and encouraged close cooperation between the Malian transitional authorities, ECOWAS, the African Union and other countries to prepare detailed options in regard to any such forces mandate," the United Nations said in a statement.

Ancient tombs damaged in Mali
Ancient tombs damaged in Mali

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Mali rebel groups unite
Mali rebel groups unite

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Events leading to military coup in Mali
Events leading to military coup in Mali

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Chaos have rocked Mali since a military ruler overthrew the democratically-elected president in March. Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo stepped down in May and transferred power to a civilian transitional government.

Since then, ethnic Tuareg rebels and other militants have taken advantage of the uncertainty to seize control of the northern portion of the country.

Islamic militants have gone on a rampage, destroying sacred tombs in Timbuktu and vowing to destroy more. The tombs, a 15th century shrine to Muslim saints, are part of a World Heritage site in Timbuktu.

The transitional government, which was appointed after the coup leader agreed to hand over power, has said it is working toward the restoration of democracy.

As the situation in the north deteriorates, the Security Council warned of worsening humanitarian conditions exacerbated by drought, sporadic rains and poor harvest.

"The United Nations and its partners have appealed for $1.6 billion to provide vital humanitarian aid to people in Africa's crisis-stricken Sahel region, which includes Mali," the world body said.