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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid