The United Nations has expressed concern about the growing terror threat in northern Mali and has asked member states to help identify terrorist suspects.
The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution Thursday noting the presence of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the north of Mali.
The resolution expressed concern about the rising number of weapons and kidnappings in the area. The Security Council called on countries to submit the names of groups and individuals with links to al-Qaida, particularly in northern Mali and the Sahel region.
Hardliners with the al-Qaida-allied group Ansar Dine helped seize the north from government troops after a March coup. Witnesses say the number of al-Qaida members in the region has increased since then.
The Security Council said Thursday it would study a request to authorize the deployment of troops to Mali by the West African regional bloc ECOWAS.
It also called on U.N. members to help Mali rebuild its military so that it can retake the north from al-Qaida and its allies.
Hardline Islamists helped Tuareg separatists take control of northern Mali after the overthrow of Mali's government in March. But since then, the Islamists have pushed out the separatists and taken full control of major cities including Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.
The U.N. condemned Ansar Dine's destruction of ancient Muslim shrines in Timbuktu and warned that destruction may violate international law.