UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations on Monday voiced grave concern over the continued detention of soldiers of Cote d'Ivoire by Mali and called for their release, a UN spokesman said.
"The Secretariat of the United Nations calls for the urgent release of the detained Ivorian soldiers in the spirit of the fraternal relations between the peoples of Cote d'Ivoire and Mali," said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The world body strongly supports all efforts to facilitate the release of the soldiers detained in Bamako on July 10. The United Nations also voiced its support for "the restoration of confidence and promotion of good neighborliness between the two countries," Haq told a regular press briefing.
Mali accused the Ivorian soldiers of being mercenaries and shut down all rotations of UN peacekeepers.
The Ivorian soldiers reportedly were to assist the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, to help protect a company under contract with the United Nations.
The rotation ban was lifted. But the Ivorian soldiers remain detained, except for three women who were released.
The Malian government has since added additional charges against the detained Ivorians, including conspiracy.
The UN Security Council established MINUSMA to aid Mali in its fight against extremists and other armed groups.
Haq also reported the MINUSMA conducted the first joint long-range patrol outside Menaka with the Malian armed forces.
"The aim was to deter a recent escalation of violence by terrorist armed groups in the northern region, which has resulted in significant civilian deaths and displacement," he said. "The joint operation was carried out between Menaka and the village of Imach, and a drone was also dispatched to monitor the patrolled perimeter and reassure local communities."
Haq said the patrol offered the population medical services, food, mosquito nets and hygiene kits.