Naharnet

U.N. Holds Emergency Mali Talks as Rebels Advance

The United Nations Security Council was to hold emergency talks Thursday on the crisis in Mali, diplomats said, warning that rebel forces were closing in on a key government-held town.

Diplomatic sources at U.N. headquarters in New York said the 15-member council would meet after hearing Islamist guerrillas were within 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) of the strategic front-line settlement of Mopti.

Mopti is the gateway between the rebel-held north and east of Mali and the government-held west, and a diplomatic source expressed concern that a major militant force could decide to bypass it and head towards the capital.

The United Nations has endorsed a plan by Mali's West African allies to set up a regional force to help the government defeat the insurgency, but it is far from ready to deploy, despite promises of Western logistical support.

A diplomat in New York said a 1,200-strong force of rebels equipped with nimble four-wheel drive vehicles was dangerously close to Mopti, which is 460 kilometers north east of Bamako, on the south bank of the Niger river.

Mopti.

Source: Agence France Presse


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