News / Africa

French, Mali Troops Cautiously Advance Against Islamists

A French soldier is reflected in the mirror of a military jeep in Niono, Mali, January 20, 2013.
A French soldier is reflected in the mirror of a military jeep in Niono, Mali, January 20, 2013.
Anne Look
French and Malian ground forces continue their cautious push north, as the counteroffensive against al-Qaida-linked Islamist rebels in the north enters its second week.   
 
Islamist rebels appear to have left the town of Diabaly, in Mali's middle belt, less than a week after they seized it as part of a bold southern offensive that brought the French airpower and ground troops into the fight alongside the Malian army. 
 
Still, forces patrolling the area say they are proceeding with caution. 
 
Foreign Troop Commitments to Mali

  • France 2,000 on the ground, 500 more committed
  • Chad to send 2,000
  • Nigeria to send 1,200
  • Benin to send 650
  • Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Togo have committed 500 each
  • Guinea and Ghana are also sending troops
  •  
A French military officer told journalists Sunday that the situation in Diabaly remains unclear. He said the rebels are a very mobile and formidable enemy. 
 
Malian colonel Seibou Sogoba said the Islamists could be trying to blend in with the local population.
 
He says war against Islamists is so difficult because they come and begin to mix with the population and then, little by little, certain parts of the population will adhere to their cause. 
 
Al-Qaida-linked Islamist militant groups seized control of northern Mali in April, on the heels of a military coup in the south that further weakened the Malian army.
 
The Islamists began their surprise offensive southward on January 9, seizing the town of Konna, just 70 kilometers north of the government stronghold at Sevare.  French ground troops are now in Sevare alongside the Malian army, protecting its strategically important airport.
 
The Malian army has since retaken Konna but says that it is still conducting thorough searches to fully secure the town. 
 
The counteroffensive has sparked concern about reprisal attacks against civilians belonging to the lighter-skinned Arab and Tuareg communities of the north, who might be seen as supporters of the rebels. 
 
Human Rights Watch said Saturday that it has received "credible reports about serious abuses committed by members of the Malian security forces against civilians, notably Tuaregs and Arabs, in and around the area of Niono," which is near Diabaly.  HRW said those abuses included a few killings. 
 
Mali's military spokesman told VOA he was not aware of any such reports. 

View a photo gallery by VOA's Idrissa Fall in Mali
 
The Al-Carama Alliance of Arab Communities in Mali held a press conference in Bamako Sunday to call for national solidarity. 
 
The alliance president, Mohamed Mahmoud El-Oumrany, says victory should not be sullied by unnecessary errors or acts of revenge that bring nothing to the war effort, and instead will just cast a shadow over the victory and make it harder to live together tomorrow. 
 
Senegalese soldiers began arriving in Bamako Sunday as part of a slowly building regional intervention force intended to fight alongside Malian and French troops. 
 
Mali's interim president, Diouncounda Traore, addressed the nation Sunday on the occasion of the 52nd anniversary of the creation of the army. 
 
He called on Malians to stand united in their support of the army and to help soldiers in any way possible. He said this will likely be a "costly and exhausting" war, but also a necessary one to protect regional and global security. 

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: musawi melake from: '
January 21, 2013 3:43 AM
"colonel Seibou Sogoba says war against Islamists is so difficult because they come and begin to mix with the population and then, little by little, certain parts of the population will adhere to their cause".
This is the classical people force isn't it? If people can adhere to ones cause, then it should mean it's people friendly, although it's been portrayed as evil by interested parties, neo-colonialists.There needs to be some reforms on the part of the rebels, be they be in Mali, Somalia or elsewhere, for the fundamentals are that these fighter want to getrid of foreign influence and exploitation, but by choosing a hardline islamic code, they lose many supporters among the population. If the cause is in deed evil, then there shouldn't be any difficulty for the Malian army to dislodge them and alienate from the people, but on the contrary, it's the foreign backed MAlian army that's struggling to cope. Events speak for themselves!
In Response

by: umaru ibn amankwa from: london
January 21, 2013 3:29 PM
The reason why people in diably would support them is a few. Firstly the jihadist have connections to the town where they have been promoting their brand for a while, that is most likely why they fled there in the first place.Second muslims in their heart love the prophet(saw) and his sunnah. These 'jihadists' apparently take up the mantle of islam and sunnah and astound the muslims by their outward appearance as Allah says " And when you see them, their forms please you, and if they speak, you listen to their speech. [They are] as if they were pieces of wood propped up - they think that every shout is against them..." In reality they run drugs, kidnapp and ransome, attack and kill innocent people all things which are against shariah.

by: beancube from: Seattle WA
January 20, 2013 5:38 PM
Be very very careful, we are paying for another huge death tolls without permission to know any details of the operations and how local people's general opinions. Our military doesn't expect we will care about their war criminal behaviors that will provoke the local population but drag us into another long, long and expensive military operation overseas.
In Response

by: mike tillman from: tenn.usa
January 21, 2013 12:04 PM
need to give the people what they need or wnt...clean water,food health care. good government and they will shed thes islamists on their own. let it be known no to neocolinist behavior and the reason why french are there andd to leave and turn it over to mali forces asap'
In Response

by: Rocksaldt from: USA
January 20, 2013 10:30 PM
Well-put. As for the local people's general opinions, there have been surveys conducted of people still living in their towns/cities/villages which are generally favorable of the intervention. However, no surveys have been conducted among those who have either fled since 1/11 or are caught in the crossfire at present. According to my friends who work for the UN, Tuareg refugees are generally terrified of the intervention...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs