US sets sanctions on rebel leader in northern Mali

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Associated Press

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 26 at 10:01 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has imposed sanctions on a Touareg leader whose extremist group seized much of northern Mali last year and prompted a French military intervention.

The State Department says Iyad Ag Ghali, head of Ansar Dine, is a global terrorist. The declaration blocks any assets he holds in the U.S. and bans Americans from doing business with him.

The U.N. also added Ag Ghali to its global sanctions list.

Ag Ghali's armed Islamists conquered much of northern Mali after a military coup in Mali's capital, aided by al-Qaida's North Africa wing.

In Timbuktu, he imposed strict Sharia law and forced thousands to flee; others were tortured and executed.

A French-led intervention in January has turned the tide. Ag Ghali's rebels have retreated to mountainous hideouts near the Algeria border.

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