- - Tuesday, October 2, 2012

DAKAR, Senegal — Military action will be needed to push radical Islamists out of northern Mali, where they have carried out amputations and public whippings since seizing control of the region earlier this year, a top U.S. official said.

Johnnie Carson, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, told reporters that Mali also must establish a “strong, credible government” so that its military is capable of leading the effort to liberate the north.

Al Qaeda-linked militants took advantage of a power vacuum in the distant capital back in March, when mutinous soldiers overthrew the democratically elected government. Over the past six months, the militants have begun imposing their form of strict Islamic law known as Shariah.

The United States has expressed growing concern about the situation in northern Mali. Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called it “a powder keg that the international community cannot afford to ignore.”

Mr. Carson said Monday that other countries — such as Algeria, Mauritania and Chad — also need to be involved in finding a solution to the Malian crisis, along with the United States, the European Union and others.


Mexico-CIA attack could be drug cartel

MEXICO CITY — A senior U.S. official says there is strong circumstantial evidence that Mexican federal police who fired on a U.S. embassy vehicle, wounding two CIA agents, were working for organized crime on a targeted assassination attempt.

Meanwhile, a Mexican official with knowledge of the case on the Aug. 24 ambush confirmed Tuesday that prosecutors are investigating whether the Beltran Leyva Cartel was behind the attack.

The Mexican official said it is among several lines of investigation into the shooting up of an armored SUV clearly marked by diplomatic license plates on a rural road near Cuernavaca south of Mexico City.

Federal police, historically known for infiltration and corruption by drug cartels, have said the shooting was a case of mistaken identity as officers were looking into the kidnapping of a government employee in that area.


Libyan forces to sweep pro-Gadhafi town

TRIPOLI — Libyan militias operating alongside the defense ministry are readying their forces to advance on a city that remains a bastion of support for the ousted regime of Moammar Gadhafi.

Militia commander Faraj al-Swehli said dozens of families have fled Bani Walid in anticipation of an offensive. On Tuesday, three fighters from neighboring Misrata were wounded in clashes during a surveillance operation near Bani Walid.

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