The UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Mali terror group Movement for Tawhid and Jihad (MUJAO), AFP reported on Thursday (December 6th).
The MUJAO was added to the UN list of al-Qaeda groups and individuals hit with a global asset freeze and travel ban. The Wednesday move comes as the Security Council debates authorising an international military operation to reclaim northern Mali from armed Islamists.
The UN statement said that the MUJAO had seized heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, explosives and other military equipment from Mali military arsenals since moving into the country.
"The MUJAO's leaders are known to be drug traffickers, involved in the drug trade in the Sahel," the UN statement added.
The al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) splinter group first appeared after the kidnapping of three humanitarian workers at a Western Sahara refugee camp in October, 2011.
AQIM and MUJAO are currently holding at least 13 foreign hostages, including 7 Algerian diplomats kidnapped in Gao.
In related news Wednesday, Mali called on the UN to urgently approve an international force against the Islamist militants.
"The daily suffering of the occupied Malian people is well known: there are floggings, amputation of limbs, summary executions, children forced to become soldiers, rapes, stoning, looting and the destruction of cultural and historic sites," Malian Minister for African Integration Traore Rokiatou Guikine told the Security Council.