DHAKA: Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has called for sanctions against fighters who have taken over northern Mali.
The UN chief asked the Security Council on Wednesday to consider financial and travel sanctions against rebels and fighters linked to radical Islamist groups, including several who are allied with al-Qaeda.
Ban said that the 15-member council should "give serious consideration to the imposition of targeted travel and financial sanctions against individuals or groups in Mali engaged in terrorist, religious extremist or criminal activities".
He also termed the destruction of historically significant shrines in Timbuktu by Ansar Dine, an al-Qaeda-linked group, a "callous" act.
A March 22 military coup in the West African country set off a chain of events which led to Tuareg rebels and Ansar Dine taking over most of northern Mali.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) refused to recognise the new coup leader and forced him to cede power to a transition government.
It has now proposed sending an intervention force to Mali to help the transitional government, and has asked for UN backing.
The UN chief told the meeting that Djibril Bassole, Burkina Faso`s foreign minister and an ECOWAS mediator, met with leaders of Ansar Dine in Mali on Tuesday "and requested that they cut ties to terrorist movements before any peace talk could begin".
He added that "no meaningful dialogue has commenced between the government of Mali and any of the groups in the north".
Ban also warned of a growing humanitarian crisis in Mali, where the UN says that over 250,000 people have fled and 174,000 have been internally displaced since the coup.
BDST: 0920 HRS, AUG 10, 2012