News / Europe

    France Launches Airstrikes in Mali to Support Government

    Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore (Back center R), speaks with ministers during a cabinet meeting at which a national state of emergency was declared, in Bamako, January 11, 2013.
    Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore (Back center R), speaks with ministers during a cabinet meeting at which a national state of emergency was declared, in Bamako, January 11, 2013.
    VOA News
    France has carried out airstrikes in Mali to support government forces trying to stem advances by Islamist militants.

    France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, confirmed the air raids Friday, but declined to give more details about the military operation.

    France announced earlier Friday that it had deployed troops to Mali at the request of the government. Troops from Nigeria and Senegal also are in Mali to help government forces.   

    Malian military officials say the attack has stopped the offensive by Islamist rebels. The rebels, who control all of the north of the country, had pushed south this week, taking the town of Konna. Malian military officials say government troops have now taken back the town.

    Map of MaliMap of Mali
    x
    Map of Mali
    Map of Mali
    Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore, declared a national state of emergency Friday and called on every Malian to help in the war effort.

    "Every Malian, man and woman, should from here on out consider oneself to be a soldier of the nation and behave as such. We call on all mining, telephone and other companies, as well as all people morally and physically able, to contribute to this fight against terrorism," said Traore. "All public services should put all vehicles that could be useful in the field at the service of the army without delay."

    French President Francois Hollande said the French forces are helping to fight what he called "terrorist elements" in Mali.

    "This operation will last as long as necessary. I will keep the French regularly informed about its proceedings," said Hollande. "The terrorists must know that France will always be here, when it comes to not only its fundamental interests, but also the rights of a population, that of Mali, which wants to live freely and in a democracy.''

    Mali's president had asked France, the country's former colonial ruler, for immediate help in stopping the rebel advance. Diplomatic sources say Traore will meet with Hollande in Paris next Wednesday.

    France's Foreign Ministry has advised French citizens in Mali to leave the country "temporarily," while the U.S. embassy in Bamako is urging Americans against all travel to the West African country.

    State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States is consulting very closely with France's government.

    British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Friday that Britain supports the French decision to intervene militarily.

    Last month, the United Nations Security Council approved a plan for West African states to deploy at least 3,000 troops to Mali to help train the army and retake the north. But until this week, no troops had been expected in Mali until September.

    The Islamists' takeover of Konna on Thursday placed the militant force within 25 kilometers from Mopti, the northernmost city under Malian government control. The militant groups are still several hundred kilometers from Bamako.

    On Thursday, the government ordered all schools closed in the capital and in the nearby garrison town of Kati, citing the threat of civil unrest.  

    The order, which covers kindergarten through university, came as state television broadcast a statement saying in part that the country faces "one of the direst periods in its history." It urged all citizens "to unite behind the army in the fight to take back the north."

    Al-Qaida-linked groups took control of Mali's north soon after renegade soldiers overthrew the country's elected president last March. The groups have imposed a harsh form of Islamic law on the areas in their control, drawing condemnation from human rights groups.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: See 4 yourself
    January 13, 2013 8:07 AM
    JFK come and live in Africa and then you can really understand the situation on the ground. So easy to comment from the safety
    of Canada, a remote location. France has done what France should do, just wish the UK had the same - another story another time

    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    January 12, 2013 5:36 PM
    France has agreements with most of its former colonies, to assist the gvmts as requested. Those agreements include military assistance as requested by the nation. France has sent its forces to ex-colonies, at the request of the national gvmt, especially the smaller nations, to help usually in natural disasters. The request by Algeria, during the recent civil war, I believe was the one time France did not help on the ground. So this is not that unusual situation for France. It is good for France to honor its agreements, and help its African allies, when they so request. I just hope it does not turn into a 10 yr+ committment.

    by: See 4 Yourself
    January 12, 2013 7:30 AM
    Unfortunately no one helped in Zimbabwe, they were abandoned
    The same is happening now, can you hear the "silence".?

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    January 12, 2013 3:22 AM
    I think arms are not justified and never work well whatever as the means to resolve disputes among opponents. I have faith France should take pain to tell Islamists that the best way to control people is not to pursuade them to obey the one-way faith but to let them free to seek the faith they naturally could worship.

    by: joekanuck from: Canada
    January 12, 2013 12:31 AM
    So let me get this straight; when islamist rebels, (aligned with Al Qaeda), try to overthrow the Syrian regime, they are freedom fighters, and when islamists, (aligned with Al Qaeda), rebel against the Mali regime, they are terrorists.

    by: Jayson
    January 11, 2013 10:13 AM
    Just hope the UN can approve the offer of assistance.
    Clear that there was a problem with Syria and it stalled.
    Security Council decisions have failed many people sadly.
    In Response

    by: ORGirl from: Oregon
    January 11, 2013 7:21 PM
    I don't have too much faith in the U.N. to do anything but sit around and wring their hands wondering what to do next.
    In Response

    by: DRJJ from: USA
    January 11, 2013 12:18 PM
    Al-Qaida ruining another country! When will muslim leaders around the globe stand up and say enough?? Stop all tourism, aid and trade with any country embracing Al-Qaida and others like them-it's the only way they'll learn to live peacefully with others! Let's hear from muslim leaders loud and clear across the globe-if we all police these idiots they'll stop the hate/evil!

    by: Gold Hoarder
    January 11, 2013 8:17 AM
    How noble of Mr Hollande to help the inferior races out. What selfless leaders the West has.
    In Response

    by: joekanuck from: Canada
    January 12, 2013 12:34 AM
    That sounds like the 21st century version of the 'domino theory', which created so much fun in Vietnam. The communist horde never took over the world...neither will the Muslims.
    In Response

    by: Carlos Weaver from: Virginia, US
    January 11, 2013 7:29 PM
    Gold Hoarder's comment above makes no sense whatever.

    The French are helping an African nation to be overrun by the local version of the Taliban. This has nothing to do with race, but with extremists trying to force their, in this case absurd, beliefs and way of life on others.
    In Response

    by: ORGirl from: Oregon
    January 11, 2013 7:16 PM
    It's not about 'what selfless leaders the west has.' It's about stemming the tide of radical Islamists. If we don't do something about it now we'll all be praying to Allah.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.