News / Africa

French, Malian Troops Retake Rebel-Controlled Town

French soldiers prepare their ammunitions at the military airbase in Bamako, before their deployment as part of the "Serval" operation against Islamists occupying northern Mali, January 16, 2013.
French soldiers prepare their ammunitions at the military airbase in Bamako, before their deployment as part of the "Serval" operation against Islamists occupying northern Mali, January 16, 2013.
VOA News
French and Malian troops have retaken the town of Diabaly in central Mali from Islamist militants.

A witness in Diabaly told VOA the town was retaken Monday, a week after Islamist fighters seized control.  Reports from the area say armored vehicles carrying French and Malian soldiers entered the town with no resistance, after days of French airstrikes.

Mali, AfricaMali, Africa
Mali, Africa
Mali, Africa
Residents say Islamists either fled the town or are attempting to blend in with the local population.

French forces said they were searching for landmines or explosive devices.

French forces intervened in Mali 10 days ago, amid fears that militants who control northern Mali were pushing toward the capital, Bamako.  Diabaly, located 400 kilometers north of the capital, marked the militants' closest approach to the city so far.

In Paris Monday, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said French and Malian forces have also retaken the town of Douentza.

On Sunday, Le Drian said France will accept nothing less than the "total reconquest" of Mali from Islamist militants.

Troops from Nigeria, Togo, Niger and Benin are also in Mali as part of an African intervention force.

Abdel Fatau Musah, external relations director for the Economic Community of West African States, told VOA Monday that the international community needs to provide financial and logistical support for ECOWAS forces.  He says this is "not a time to hold back."

"The whole conflict has been internationalized because of the whole issue of this criminal network, this terrorist network, that threatens not only West Africa but also the international community," he said. "France itself has acknowledged that it needs West African troops on the ground to make its air force worthwhile."

VOA French to Africa correspondent Idrissa Fall is in Sevare, close to the fighting in central Mali.  On Sunday, he described the town as being in a "state of war" with streets overrun by French and Malian military forces while empty of civilians.

Sevare has a strategically important airport which could serve as a base for further operations in the north.

Fall says the French military is giving little information to residents in the north, creating a sense of panic.  He reports phone lines to the city of Gao have been down for more than a week.

The extremists seized control of northern Mali after renegade soldiers toppled the government in March, leaving a temporary power vacuum.  The militants have imposed harsh conservative Islamic law across the north.  France is Mali's former colonial ruler and still has economic and political interests there.

  • Adama Drabo, 16, sits in the police station in Sevare, Mali, January 25, 2013. He was captured traveling without papers by Malian troops and arrested on suspicion of working for Islamic militant group MUJAO.
  • French soldiers sing the national anthem during a ceremony with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, before their departure to Mali, at Miramas Military base, France, January 25, 2013.
  • Malian troops man an observation post outside Sevare, Mali January 24, 2013.
  • French soldiers at an observation post outside Sevare, Mali, about 400 miles north of the capital Bamako, January 24, 2013.
  • A boy who fled northern Mali is seen at a camp for internally displaced persons in Sevare, Mali, January 23, 2013.
  • People who fled northern Mali are seen at a camp for internally displaced persons, in the city of Sevare, Mali, January 23, 2013.
  • Malians hang on the back of a packed minibus as they drive to Marakala, central Mali, 240 kilometers from Bamako, January 22, 2013.
  • A French soldier carries his equipment after arriving on a US Air Force C-17 transport plane at the airport in Bamako, Mali, January 22, 2013.
  • Malian soldiers carry a box of ammunition after searching through debris at a military camp in Diabaly, Mali, January 21 2013.
  • Charred pickup trucks, which according to local villagers, belonged to al-Qaida-linked rebels and destroyed by French airstrikes, are seen in Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.
  • A French soldier secures a perimeter on the outskirts of Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.
  • A Malian soldier walks inside a military camp used by radical Islamists and bombarded by French warplanes, in Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.
  • An unidentified man takes a picture of the charred remains of trucks used by radical Islamists on the outskirts of Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.
  • A Malian soldier checks identity papers in the center of Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Munir Hatwawi from: Syria
January 21, 2013 5:20 PM
to all those who advocate intervention in Syria... be careful of what you hope for... you will have the Muslim Brotherhood (Al Qaeda) perpetrating the same atrocities you see before you on a much larger scale. Assad is bad, but the alternative is much much worse!!! there is a reason why the Israelis did not send their "Mechanics" to convert Assad into a can of dog food...

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs