News / Africa

Malian Troops Advance on Last Rebel-Held Stronghold

x
Reuters
Malian special forces advanced towards the rebel-held town of Kidal on Thursday on a scouting mission ahead of a possible assault on the last stronghold of the Tuareg separatist MNLA, a day before peace talks were due to begin.
 
Government troops captured a village about 100 km (60 miles) south of Kidal on Wednesday after heavy fighting, the first clashes with the rebels since France led a military offensive in January to drive out Islamists militants from northern Mali.
 
The French campaign broke a 10-month occupation of northern Mali by al-Qaida-linked groups, but left Kidal under the control of the MNLA in a further hurdle to government efforts to unify the west African country.
 
Army spokesman Colonel Souleymane Maiga said that Malian forces were consolidating their positions around the village of Anefis while preparing to advance on Kidal.
 
Military sources said on Wednesday that Malian troops had, by nightfall, advanced to the village of Amessine, 37 km (23 miles) from Kidal, and reinforcements were being sent north from the towns of Gao and Menaka.
 
“Special forces are on a reconnaissance mission in the area around Kidal,” Maiga said. “We have been informed that MNLA fighters are trying to use the non-Tuareg population as human shields to block our entrance into the town.”
 
The Malian army has promised to retake the town before the presidential election scheduled for July 28. The MNLA seized it when Islamist fighters fled French forces.
 
The West African state's interim government has accused the MNLA of arresting and carrying out ethnic violence against black Songhai, Bella and Bambara people in Kidal, expelling some of them from the town.
 
The United States on Wednesday condemned “racially motivated acts of detention and expulsions in Kidal” and called for a negotiated solution that would return Mali's civilian administration to the area.
 
Amnesty International said on Thursday that serious human rights abuses were taking place in Mali, despite the presence of around 3,500 French troops there. Amnesty pointed the finger at the Malian army, the MNLA and the Islamist MUJWA.
 
The MNLA has rejected Bamako's calls for it to lay down its weapons and said it will resist any attempt to retake Kidal. It has said it is open to negotiations if northern Mali's right to self-determination is recognized.
 
Both parties are due to meet from Friday in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou for talks. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the talks were due to be concluded by June 10.
 
Mali's chief negotiator told a news conference in Bamako he was confident of reaching a deal to allow July's elections to proceed across the country, including Kidal.
 
“These conditions mean the return of the Malian state throughout the country including the administration, technical services and also the army and security services,” Tiebile Drame said. "I feel a consensus is emerging and I am optimistic about the signing of an agreement on June 10 in Ouagadougou.”

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs