News / Africa

French, Malian Troops Retake Timbuktu

Malian soldiers are stationed at the entrance of of Gao, northern Mali, Jan. 28, 2013. The sign, a reminder of Islamic extremists, reads
Malian soldiers are stationed at the entrance of of Gao, northern Mali, Jan. 28, 2013. The sign, a reminder of Islamic extremists, reads "Al Hesbah, together for the pleasure of God almighty and the struggle against sins."
VOA News
Islamist militants have lost more ground in northern Mali, with French and Malian troops taking the city of Timbuktu and secular Tuareg rebels announcing they have seized the city of Kidal.

A spokesman for Tuareg rebel group MNLA told VOA on Monday that the group's fighters now control Kidal and the nearby town of Tessalit.  There has been no independent confirmation of the claim.

x
Meanwhile, French media reports say French and Malian troops entered central Timbuktu Monday, a day after they seized the local airport and the key roads that lead to the historic city.

The U.N. cultural agency UNESCO lists Timbuktu as a World Heritage site for its ancient mosques and shrines, some of which date back to the 15th century.  But Islamist group Ansar Dine considers the sites sacrilegious, and the militants destroyed some mausoleums while they controlled the city.

Timbuktu's mayor said Monday that Islamists fleeing the town set fire to a library housing thousands of historic manuscripts.  Officials say they do not yet know the extent of the damage.

Earlier, VOA correspondent Anne Look, who is in Malian town of Sevare, reported most Malians are cheered by the Islamists' retreat.

“What’s interesting when I talk to people both in Bamako and in the north, there’s a real sense, especially among average folk but among the military people that I talked to, that they’ve got the enemy on the run, that these kind of landmark victories -- taking back Gao over the weekend, and getting so close to Timbuktu -- are really boosting morale," she said.  

French and Malian forces retook Gao on Saturday from Islamists who fled without resistance.

Afterward, residents of Gao played music in the streets, danced, smoked and wore Western-style clothing, celebrating their first full day in months without the strict Islamic law the militants had imposed.

France began a military offensive in Mali earlier this month after Islamist rebels who had seized control of much of the country's northern territory last year began pushing toward Bamako.

The Islamist rebels had joined with ethnic Tuaregs to take control of northern Mali following a government coup in March that left a power vacuum in the country.  The Islamist groups later took full control of the northern region and imposed strict Islamic law.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday that a key component to resolving the crisis in Mali is new elections to overturn the results of the coup.  However, she softened the U.S. stance that Mali needs to hold elections by April.

"The date had been in April.  I think obviously we're not going to prejudge whether security is going to be restored in a manner that is going to enable that," she said. "What we want is a national unity conversation about what is appropriate and security standards so that elections can go forward as soon as possible."

In another development Monday, the International Monetary Fund said it would give Mali an emergency loan of $18.4 million.

  • French soldiers patrol outside Djinguereber mosque after Friday prayers in the center of Timbuktu February 1, 2013.
  • People hold Malian and French flags during the reopening ceremony of Mahamane Fondogoumo elementary school in the town center of Timbuktu, February 1, 2013. 
  • Children celebrate holding a French flag during the reopening ceremony of Mahamane Fondogoumo elementary school in the town center of Timbuktu February 1, 2013.
  • Islamist rebel prisoners guarded by Malian gendarmes are seen at a military camp in the center of Timbuktu February 1, 2013.
  • Malian gendarmes show weapons used by Islamist rebels at a military camp in the center of Timbuktu February 1, 2013.
  • During an official visit organized by the French military, residents and journalists gather around a French Sagay tank positioned overlooking the bridge crossing the river Niger at the entrance of Gao, Mali, January 31, 2013.
  • During an official visit organized by the French military, French troops are positioned overlooking the bridge crossing the river Niger at the entrance of Gao, Mali, January 31, 2013.
  • Three Malian girls walk in the streets of Gao, Mali, January 31, 2013.
  • Chadian soldiers patrol the streets of Gao, Mali, January 29, 2013.
  • This photo released by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office shows a crowd cheering the arrival of French soldiers in Timbuktu, Mali, January 28, 2013.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: L Murphy from: Canada
January 28, 2013 3:21 PM
Looks like the USA could take some lessons from the French. They are walking through this country like a true army.
In Response

by: Drake from: USA
January 30, 2013 1:40 AM
I couldn't agree more!

by: Kafantaris from: USA Ohio
January 28, 2013 8:12 AM
The retreating insurgents' burning of the library in Timbuktu is the unkindest cut of all.
Not even Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi had reached such heights of barbarity.
Indeed, ignorance is again proving to be the worst enemy to have.
In Response

by: Q
January 29, 2013 6:14 AM
Back to the 1930, Were they Burn Books they will start to Burn People.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More