The US State Department designated an al Qaeda affiliate in Mali, Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, as a foreign terrorist organisation, cutting off funding and blocking US citizens from doing business with it.
The group claimed responsibility for numerous attacks and kidnappings since it was formed in March 2017, the department said in a statement.
It said Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) was responsible for an attack in June 2017 at a resort outside Bamako, as well as attacks on Malian troops and co-ordinated attacks in Ouagadougou, capital of neighbouring Burkina Faso, in March this year.
“Al-Qaeda and its affiliates like JNIM remain deadly threats to the United States and our allies. These designations are part of continuing efforts to squeeze al-Qaeda’s finances, denying it the resources it needs to carry out attacks,” said Nathan Sales, the department’s co-ordinator for counter-terrorism.
Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, created from a merger of local groups, was later endorsed by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Islamist groups claim increasingly frequent attacks on Western targets in Mali and the wider West Africa region, including a raid on a Bamako hotel in late 2015 which killed 20 people.