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Article updated: 3/21/2013 11:15 AM

U.S. imposes sanctions on extremist group in Mali

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By Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration has imposed sanctions on the Islamist extremist group that seized much of northern Mali last year and prompted a French military intervention.

The State Department's declaration of Ansar Dine as a foreign terrorist organization blocks any assets it has in the U.S. and bans Americans from doing business with it.

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Washington issued similar measures against the group's leader, Iyad Ag Ghali, last month.

Aided by al-Qaida's North Africa wing, Ansar Dine took control of much of northern Mali after a tribal rebellion. In Timbuktu, it imposed strict Sharia law and forced thousands to flee; others were tortured and executed.

A French-led intervention in January turned the tide, pushing the rebels back to mountainous hideouts near the Algeria border.

The U.N. also set global sanctions against Ansar Dine.

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