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The United Nations is concerned about the reported military movements of rebel groups along the frontline in northern Mali, as well as related tensions, a spokesperson for the world body said today.

According to media reports, on Thursday, Islamist rebels seized control of Konna – a city of 50,000 people some 700 kilometres north-east of the capital, Bamako.

“We ask the Malian rebel groups to abide by Security Council resolutions 2071 and 2085 calling for them to cut off all ties with terrorist organizations,” the spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, added in a news briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.

Martin Nesirky UN Spokesperson

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky

The renewed clashes in the north, as well as the proliferation of armed groups in the region, drought and political instability in the wake of a military coup d’état in March have uprooted hundreds of thousands of civilians. Over 412,000 people have been forced to flee the country’s north, and an estimated five million people have been affected by the conflict.

The Malian Government and rebel groups are expected to meet for peace talks in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, on 21 January.

“We urge adherence to the cessation of hostilities declared on 4 December 2012 in Ouagadougou and continue to call on the parties to engage in dialogue to address the situation,” Mr. Nesirky told reporters.

He added that the United Nations is supporting the mediation efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and “we look forward to the resumption of negotiations which are now scheduled for 21 January.”