Thousands have fled an area in Northern Mali amid a renewed insurgency by groups of the Tuareg people fighting the central government for greater autonomy. Hostilities erupted in mid-January as fighters armed with heavy weaponry returned from Libya where they had allied with that nation’s late and deposed leader, Moammar Gadhafi. Some half-dozen towns in the north have been attacked.
Though both government and rebel forces have seen casualties, the greater suffering has been among civilians who have been forced to flee their homes and in many cases even the country.
The United States is deeply concerned by these continuing incidents of violence and condemns the attacks. These groups that claim to defend the rights of the Malian people are a great threat to their well-being, and indeed the peace and stability of the entire region.
We urge all parties to resume dialogue toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict and the underlying issues that have fueled tensions in Northern Mali for many years.
The United States further condemns the apparent retaliatory attacks against members of ethnic groups associated with the situation in the north. President Amadu Toumani Toure has appealed for calm, noting the Malian spirit of diversity and democracy, and we urge citizens there to heed his call for peace and tolerance. In turn, the Malian government should continue its efforts to ensure the safety of all Malian citizens.