News / Africa

French Troops to Begin Withdrawal From Mali in April

France's President Francois Hollande (C) speaks to military officials as he attends a ceremony to the memory of Stephane Hessel, at the Invalides in Paris, March 7, 2013.France's President Francois Hollande (C) speaks to military officials as he attends a ceremony to the memory of Stephane Hessel, at the Invalides in Paris, March 7, 2013.
x
France's President Francois Hollande (C) speaks to military officials as he attends a ceremony to the memory of Stephane Hessel, at the Invalides in Paris, March 7, 2013.
France's President Francois Hollande (C) speaks to military officials as he attends a ceremony to the memory of Stephane Hessel, at the Invalides in Paris, March 7, 2013.
Anne Look
French President Francois Hollande said that French troops will begin pulling out of Mali in April. French, Malian and Chadian troops continue to face resistance from Islamist militants in the north, and analysts say the militant threat to both northern Mali and the greater Sahel region is far from neutralized.

Hollande said the French military campaign in Mali that began on January 11 is in its "ultimate phase."

He said this is the final stage because they have succeeded in all the other stages: the liberation of the major towns and the securing of Mali's national territory. He said this last stage will last for the whole month of March, and beginning in April there will be a decrease in the number of French soldiers in Mali - as soon as the African forces take over with support from the Europeans.

Hollande spoke Wednesday in Poland, as French and Chadian troops continue to face fierce resistance in the Ifoghas mountains of far northeastern Mali.

The area is the longtime hideout of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM. It is where some of the fighters from the various al-Qaida-linked groups who controlled northern Mali for 10 months are believed to have fled.

The French say they have recovered impressive caches of weapons in the Ifoghas and are reporting dozens of Islamists captured or killed.

Chad says its troops in that zone killed two key AQIM field commanders - Abu Zeid and Mohktar Belmokhtar. Confirmation remains sketchy, however, and Paris has been circumspect.

On Wednesday, Hollande said the French would reveal more information in coming days on "successes" in the Ifoghas, including the killing of certain "terrorist leaders," though he didn't name anyone.

French and Malian forces also are trying to round up Islamist fighters holed up in villages around the northern town of Gao.

France lost its fourth soldier Wednesday since the start of the campaign in a rebel ambush 100 kilometers east of Gao. The French army said the Malian army, backed up by French airpower, killed 30 Islamists in that engagement.

The question of what will happen when the French withdraw has been persistent since the first French airstrike in January.

Sahel security experts, like J. Peter Pham of the Washington-based Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, say it is dangerous to underestimate the number of militants who are "biding their time," as well as the work still needed to properly train and equip the regional African force, which so far has been slow to deploy.

"If the French do withdraw most of their 4,000 troops, you're going to have a relatively weak African force, poorly trained, heading right into the rainy season without the strength of the French forces, facing militants who have gone to ground or gone to the mountains or wherever now, crawling back out and potentially launching asymmetric attacks all throughout the rainy season that could turn the African forces into little more than defending isolated garrisons," said Pham.

Jihadist groups in northern Mali repeatedly pledged revenge attacks against France and any African countries joining the regional force.

Militants so far have carried out three suicide bombings targeting the towns of Gao and Kidal in northern Mali.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Johan Bosman from: Flanders
March 13, 2013 6:47 AM
Once more by using the vague term "militants" there is no distinction made between the terrorist islamists and the Tuareg resistance fighters!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid