News / Africa

French-Backed Malian Forces Push Toward Rebel Stronghold

French soldiers fill up their tank at a local petrol station in Sevare, some 620 kilometers (385 miles) north of Mali's capital Bamako, Jan. 25, 2013.
French soldiers fill up their tank at a local petrol station in Sevare, some 620 kilometers (385 miles) north of Mali's capital Bamako, Jan. 25, 2013.
VOA News
French-backed Malian forces are battling Islamist militants in a key town that leads toward the city of Gao, a militant stronghold in the country's north.

Residents and security officials say French and Malian forces fought rebels in Hombori, on Friday, a town about 250 kilometers from Gao.

Meanwhile, local officials say militants have bombed a strategic bridge near the border with Niger.

A French-led international counter-offensive against Islamist militants who seized control of much of northern Mali last year has entered its third week.

VOA correspondent Idrissa Fall, who is in Mali, says French and Malian forces are pushing toward rebel strongholds.

French soldiers man an observation post outside Sevare, some 620 kms (400 miles) north of Mali's capital Bamako Jan. 24, 2013.French soldiers man an observation post outside Sevare, some 620 kms (400 miles) north of Mali's capital Bamako Jan. 24, 2013.
x
French soldiers man an observation post outside Sevare, some 620 kms (400 miles) north of Mali's capital Bamako Jan. 24, 2013.
French soldiers man an observation post outside Sevare, some 620 kms (400 miles) north of Mali's capital Bamako Jan. 24, 2013.
"They left the city of Diabaly, which they had taken last week, and are now going north, past a city called Nampala, which is very close to Mauritania, and heading to Lere, which is also very close from the Mauritanian border. And, from Lere there is a small airport there and the French troops are within, let’s say, 100 or 200 to Timbuktu," Fall reports.

The French troops will gradually be replaced by West African soldiers who are moving into Mali.

The rebels imposed a strict interpretation of Islamic law on the region. Also, their presence has raised fears that northern Mali could become a haven for terrorists.

Aid plea

Also Friday, the United Nations refugee agency made an urgent appeal for international aid to help hundreds of thousands of people displaced by Mali's unrest.

At a Geneva news conference, UNHRC spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said the large number of people internally displaced by the fighting is putting a strain on resources in cities including the capital.

"In Bamako, we now have a number close to 50,000 people who have taken refuge in the capital. They are in very poor neighborhoods with little or no access to housing or clean water, education and health,'' Fleming explained.

Rebel split

Members of Ansar Dine and Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad during a meeting in Algiers, Algeria, December 21, 2012.Members of Ansar Dine and Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad during a meeting in Algiers, Algeria, December 21, 2012.
x
Members of Ansar Dine and Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad during a meeting in Algiers, Algeria, December 21, 2012.
Members of Ansar Dine and Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad during a meeting in Algiers, Algeria, December 21, 2012.
In another development, a faction of one of the armed Islamist groups occupying northern Mali has announced it has broken away to form its own movement.

A portion of the Ansar Dine rebel group said Thursday it had formed the Islamic Movement for Azawad.  The new group expressed a willingness to seek a negotiated solution to the country's crisis.

Separately, the head of the U.S. African Command (Africom) said the U.S. forces that trained Malian troops focused on tactical and technical matters but may not have spent enough time focusing on "values, ethics and military ethos."

General Carter Ham commented after human rights groups said Malian troops had been involved in executions and other abuses.

  • Adama Drabo, 16, sits in the police station in Sevare, Mali, January 25, 2013. He was captured traveling without papers by Malian troops and arrested on suspicion of working for Islamic militant group MUJAO.
  • French soldiers sing the national anthem during a ceremony with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, before their departure to Mali, at Miramas Military base, France, January 25, 2013.
  • Malian troops man an observation post outside Sevare, Mali January 24, 2013.
  • French soldiers at an observation post outside Sevare, Mali, about 400 miles north of the capital Bamako, January 24, 2013.
  • A boy who fled northern Mali is seen at a camp for internally displaced persons in Sevare, Mali, January 23, 2013.
  • People who fled northern Mali are seen at a camp for internally displaced persons, in the city of Sevare, Mali, January 23, 2013.
  • Malians hang on the back of a packed minibus as they drive to Marakala, central Mali, 240 kilometers from Bamako, January 22, 2013.
  • A French soldier carries his equipment after arriving on a US Air Force C-17 transport plane at the airport in Bamako, Mali, January 22, 2013.
  • Malian soldiers carry a box of ammunition after searching through debris at a military camp in Diabaly, Mali, January 21 2013.
  • Charred pickup trucks, which according to local villagers, belonged to al-Qaida-linked rebels and destroyed by French airstrikes, are seen in Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.
  • A French soldier secures a perimeter on the outskirts of Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.
  • A Malian soldier walks inside a military camp used by radical Islamists and bombarded by French warplanes, in Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.
  • An unidentified man takes a picture of the charred remains of trucks used by radical Islamists on the outskirts of Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.
  • A Malian soldier checks identity papers in the center of Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs