An Islamist militant group in lawless northern Mali, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), Friday threatened countries who would join a military intervention force.
Mali has been gripped by chaos since disgruntled troops swarmed the capital Bamako in the south in March and ousted the elected president of what had been seen as one of Africa's model democracies.
In the ensuing weeks, Tuareg rebels and Islamist hardliners have taken over a stretch of northern Mali the size of Afghanistan.
The Islamists, also including Ansar Dine and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, have since imposed an austere version of sharia law in northern Mali, and they have fallen out with the Tuareg.
Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, were meeting in Ivory Coast Friday in a bid to end the crisis. The grouping is considering sending a military force of 3,300 troops to Mali.
MUJAO warned that its branches "in several countries are ready to strike the interests of countries that intend to participate in the force of ECOWAS", warned spokesman Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui in a written message.
"The MUJAO is committed to providing all kinds of material and military support for young Muslims determined to raise the banner of Islam. The scene today is open" for jihadists, said the statement sent to an AFP correspondent in the capital Bamako.
A first draft was considered too imprecise by the UN Security Council, and ECOWAS is reviewing the proposal.
The heads of state meeting in the Ivorian capital renewed their "commitment to a peaceful settlement" but reiterated their decision to use armed intervention if necessary, according to the final statement.
Source: AFP Global Edition