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 "Al Hesbah, together for the pleasure of God almighty and the struggle against sins."
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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid