MOSCOW -- Russia sent a planeload of food, blankets and other aid to war-stricken Mali on Friday, a day after Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov warned about the spread of terrorism in North Africa, which the Russian government has linked to Western intervention in Libya.
Mr. Lavrov met on Thursday with the United Nations special envoy for the region, Romano Prodi, to discuss the situation in Mali, where Russia has supported the French-led effort to oust Islamic militants. But Russia has also blamed the West for the unrest and has singled out the French for arming the rebels who ousted the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.
"Particular concern was expressed about the activity of terrorist organizations in the north, a threat to regional peace and security," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement after the meeting. "The parties agreed that the uncontrolled proliferation of arms in the region in the wake of the conflict in Libya sets the stage for an escalation of tension throughout the Sahel." The Sahel is a vast region stretching more than 3,000 miles across Africa, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Horn of Africa.
In a television interview this month, Mr. Lavrov said, "France is fighting against those in Mali whom it had once armed in Libya against Qaddafi."
French forces quickly drove Islamist fighters out of the population centers of northern Mali -- Timbuktu and Gao, in particular -- when they began a military intervention last month. Those dispersed fighters, who are members of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and several allied groups, have begun a small campaign of harassment and terror, dispatching suicide bombers, attacking guard posts, infiltrating liberated cities or ordering attacks by militants hidden among civilians.
On Friday, suicide attackers detonated two car bombs near Tessalit, in Mali's far north, according to news reports, while Islamist fighters clashed with Malian soldiers farther south, in Gao, where fighting has flared in recent days.
The twin suicide bombings in Tessalit killed three fighters for the M.N.L.A., an ethnic Tuareg armed group that has allied with the French forces, a spokesman for the group told Agence France-Presse. On Thursday, a guard and an attacker were killed in a car bombing in Kidal, south of Tessalit, that appeared to target a civilian fuel depot, France's Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Responsibility for that attack was claimed by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, an offshoot of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The group said that it would continue to press its fight, and that it also intended to retake Gao, hundreds of miles to the south.
"More explosions will happen across our territory," a group spokesman, Abu Walid Sahraoui, told A.F.P. "Our troops have been ordered to attack. If the enemy is stronger, we'll pull back, only to return stronger, until we liberate Gao."
In central Gao on Thursday morning, Malian and French forces killed about 15 militants from "infiltrated terrorist groups" that had seized the town hall and court, according to France's Defense Ministry. The initial firefight involved only Malian soldiers and militant fighters, the ministry statement said, but several French armored vehicles and two helicopters were later involved.
Two militants were killed outside a checkpoint north of the city after "sporadically" attacking the Nigerien soldiers standing guard, the Defense Ministry said. As many as six Malian soldiers were reported wounded.
On Friday, sporadic gunfire and at least two rebel rocket attacks were reported in Gao, according to a Malian officer cited by The Associated Press. Most of the militants fled to the east of the city aboard seven vehicles, the officer said.
Russian officials have repeatedly pointed to the unrest in North Africa and political turmoil in Egypt as evidence that the Western-supported Arab Spring has created a dangerous and chaotic situation and potential breeding grounds for terrorists. Russia has also used the examples of Libya and Egypt to justify its opposition to any Western effort to oust the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
Russia voted in favor of a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the deployment of African troops in Mali, but it has also stressed that the resolution required the consent of the Malian government.
Russia's state-controlled weapons company, Rosoboronexport, has been selling small arms to the Malian government and is considering a request for additional matériel, including armor and helicopters.
The plane sent to the Malian capital, Bamako, by Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry was carrying about 36 tons of aid, including 45 tents, 2,000 blankets, canned food, cereals and rice.
David Herszenhorn reported from Moscow and Scott Sayare from Paris.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.