UN peacekeepers are deployed across northern Mali to try to stabilize the vast region, which was occupied by separatist Tuareg rebels and al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in 2012 before France intervened in 2013. Tit-for-tat violence between rival armed groups has distracted Mali from fighting Islamist militants and the country has become the deadliest place for UN peacekeepers to serve.
"We have to admit that several factors are contradicting our will and effort," Keita told a high-level meeting on Mali at the annual United Nations General Assembly. "In particular the extension of terrorism and banditry in the centre of our country which is even putting into question the stability and security of neighbouring countries because of the desire of terrorist groups affiliated to al-Qaeda and ISIS seeking to expand."
A clash in the north this week between pro-government Gatia militia and the Tuareg separatist Coordination of Azawad Movements highlighted the fragility of a UN- backed deal signed last year between the government and northern armed groups meant to end a cycle of uprisings.