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
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 Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

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