Mali's Islamist backlash over UN military approval

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Mali's Islamist backlash over UN military approval

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In northern Mali, Islamist extremists have reacted violently to UN plans to send military forces to regain control of the region.

They have restarted a campaign of destroying the numerous historic mausoleums of Muslim saints which are highly regarded by many in the region.

The attackers say the veneration of saints is tantamount to idolatry.

Religious extremist groups and secular rebel fighters took advantage of a coup in March, and took control of the vast northern part of the country.

On Friday in Algiers, two groups signed a deal to find a solution through dialogue.

One of them, The Defenders of Islam, expressed confidence that a political solution could be found.

But just three days after the UN Security Council approved the deployment of an African-led force to reclaim the north, the Islamists appear more determined than ever to establish sharia law.

One group claim to have cut off the hands of two suspected thieves, and said there is more treatment like that to come.