News / Africa

French Troops Enter Last Mali Rebel Stronghold

French special forces drive through the city of Gao, Northern Mali, Jan. 30, 2013.
French special forces drive through the city of Gao, Northern Mali, Jan. 30, 2013.
Anne Look
— French forces have entered Kidal, the last major stronghold of Islamist militants who seized control of northern Mali last year.

French troops say they have taken control of the airport in the far northern town of Kidal --  the third, and last, major northern town to be retaken during this nearly three-week, French-backed intervention against al-Qaida linked Islamist rebels.
 
MAP: Click to expand.MAP: Click to expand.
x
MAP: Click to expand.
MAP: Click to expand.
The militants seized control of northern Mali in April on the heels of a military coup in the south that further weakened the Malian army.
 
France began aerial bombardments and then ground operations in Mali to help counter a surprise offensive southward by Islamist rebels on January 10.
 
Incommunicado

Cell phone communications are cut to Kidal. The president of Kidal's regional assembly, Haminy Belco Maiga, is in touch with the town via satellite phone.

He says the French arrived Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. aboard four planes and some helicopters.  He says vehicles on the ground used their headlights to indicate the runway.  He says there was no fighting and it appears everything was organized in advance which would indicate a prior agreement made with the MNLA.
 
The MNLA is the secular Tuareg separatist group that claimed Monday to have taken control of Kidal from the Malian-led Islamist group, Ansar Dine, which had previously held the town.
 
Maiga said the MNLA remains on the "periphery of the town" and Ansar Dine appears to have fled to surrounding villages and towns further north.
 
Solo entrance

French troops arrived in Kidal without their Malian counterparts.  That's a notable departure from how they have been liberating other key towns and a source of concern for northern leaders in Bamako, like Maiga.  
 
Maiga says he does not consider the town liberated until Malian soldiers enter Kidal.  He says there is concern that the French are negotiating with fighters, like the MNLA, something that should be reserved for Malian authorities.

Malian troops try to dissuade the crowd from looting shops in Timbuktu, Jan. 29, 2013. Hundreds of Malians looted Arab-owned shops Tuesday in Mali's fabled Timbuktu, newly freed from Islamists.Malian troops try to dissuade the crowd from looting shops in Timbuktu, Jan. 29, 2013. Hundreds of Malians looted Arab-owned shops Tuesday in Mali's fabled Timbuktu, newly freed from Islamists.
x
Malian troops try to dissuade the crowd from looting shops in Timbuktu, Jan. 29, 2013. Hundreds of Malians looted Arab-owned shops Tuesday in Mali's fabled Timbuktu, newly freed from Islamists.
Malian troops try to dissuade the crowd from looting shops in Timbuktu, Jan. 29, 2013. Hundreds of Malians looted Arab-owned shops Tuesday in Mali's fabled Timbuktu, newly freed from Islamists.
French and Malian troops continue to work to secure the other two other major rebel strongholds in the north, the cities of Gao and Timbuktu.  Road access to the north remains blocked.
 
Both towns were taken in the past week without much of a fight.  Residents say many Islamist fighters had already fled before troops arrived.  Malian military sources say the Islamists are believed to have dispersed -- abandoning their vehicles and moving in small groups in an effort to blend in with the population.
 
Militants

Analysts worry that those remaining Islamist fighters could take refuge in the remote, mountainous parts of the far north.  They could then mount guerilla-style attacks against targets in Mali and neighboring countries.
 
Military sources say the more than 6,000 troops expected to be deployed to Mali from Chad and from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS will be key to securing and holding the vast territory.
 
France has said throughout its military operations in Mali that it plans to pass the baton to those African troops.
 
The French defense ministry said Tuesday that 2,900 African forces are already on the ground in Mali.  France has approximately 2,000 soldiers there.

  • 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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Davis Thanjan
January 30, 2013 12:14 PM
France has done a remarkable job of temporaily halting the advance of the Moslem fundamentalist terrorist groups from taking over Mali. The terrorists evaded the pursuit of the French military by safely evacuating the captured towns and villages.

The French or Mali forces cannot claim the death or capture of any of the terrorists. The ECOWAS forces are too slow to engage in Mali. Under these circumstances the terrorists who crossed the border to other neighboring counries are just waiting for appropriate time, after the withdrawal of French forces, for a come back.

The only way the peace can be established in Mali is by (1) retaining a small contingent of rapid strike force of France in Mali, (2) ECOWAS forces keep the security of Mali till the Malian forces are trained and equiped for internal security, (3) the countries who assisted the France continue to provide similar assistanc to ECOWAS and Mali forces, and (4) the neigboring countries conduct combing military operation against the Moslem fundamentalist terror groups in areas close to Malian border. Otherwise the diaspora of Moslem fundamentalist terrorists will create more security problems in the neighboring countries.

In Response

by: Jacob from: United States
January 30, 2013 5:23 PM
Yeah, but when we intervene in Mali we leave out all of the others. The "democracy" callers in Syria, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya all have the same goal. Funny how the West chooses one of those countries to "intervene" in and leave the others alone even though there is no visible difference between them.

In Response

by: Sensi
January 30, 2013 5:03 PM
"The French or Mali forces cannot claim the death or capture of any of the terrorists."
Hmm, they killed dozens of them before, the remaining is just melting away.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid