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Mali seeks air support to curb extremists

Mali seeks air support to curb extremists


Malian officials have asked for air support from visiting members of the United Nations Security Council to help dislodge extremists in the central Mopti region.

The manager for the Mopti governor’s office, Boukari Koita, said Saturday that local officials made the request during the visit by 15 members of the U.N. Security Council ahead of a June vote on extending the mandate of the U.N. mission in Mali. The members will next visit the northern city of Timbuktu.

Mali’s north and central regions are sites of instability.

The Mopti region is known to be a stronghold for the Macina Liberation Front, an Islamic extremist group that claimed responsibility for several attacks on the army last year.

In spring 2012 northern Mali fell under the control of jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda who imposed a brutal interpretation of sharia law on the region, with the country reeling from a military coup.

The Islamists were largely ousted by an ongoing French-led military operation launched in January 2013, although they have since carried out sporadic attacks on security forces from desert hideouts.