He made the call at a Security Council meeting at which a West African envoy said militant groups who control the north of Mali want to set up a safe haven for “continental terrorist networks.”
Ban said the 15-nation council should “give serious consideration to the imposition of targeted travel and financial sanctions against individuals or groups in Mali engaged in terrorist, religious extremist or criminal activities.”
He called the destruction of nine of the 16 shrines in Timbuktu a “callous” act by the Islamist Ansar Dine group, which controls northern Mali with Al-Qaeda linked fighters.
A March 22 military coup in the West African country set off a chain of chaotic events which led to Tuareg rebels and Ansar Dine taking over the north of Mali.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has proposed sending an intervention force to Mali to help the transitional government. It has asked for UN backing.
“The objective of the terrorist groups and transnational organized criminals is clear: It is to create a safe haven and a coordinating center in the north of Mali for continental terrorist networks,” Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs told the meeting.