News / Africa

France Begins Ground Operations in Mali

French army soldiers stand on armored vehicles as they leave Bamako and start their deployment to the north of Mali as part of the "Serval" operations, January 15, 2013.
French army soldiers stand on armored vehicles as they leave Bamako and start their deployment to the north of Mali as part of the "Serval" operations, January 15, 2013.
VOA News
French and Malian forces have converged on the town of Diabaly, which Islamist militants who control northern Mali seized earlier this week.

A reporter for VOA's French to Africa Service spoke to a resident of Diabaly, who says Malian army personnel have surrounded the town.  French media reports say French special forces are also present and that fighting in Diabaly is underway.

On Tuesday, French warplanes conducted airstrikes on the town, located 400 kilometers north of the capital, Bamako.

Foreign Troop Commitments to Mali

  • France 2,000 on the ground, 500 more committed
  • Chad to send 2,000
  • Nigeria to send 1,200
  • Benin to send 650
  • Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Togo have committed 500 each
  • Guinea and Ghana are also sending troops
  •  
VOA correspondent Anne Look reports from Bamako that the city remains calm despite fears that groups of Islamist fighters are moving southward.

"You continue hearing reports of Islamist rebels infiltrated Segou, which is near Diabaly," she says.  "And also I spoke with the military police at Koulikoro, which is a military base about 55 kilometers outside Bamako, and they said they have been out on patrols looking for Islamists who are believed to have infriltrated further south.  It appears to be life as usual for now in Bamako."

US support

Meanwhile, the U.S. military says it is providing air transport and in-air refueling for the operation in Mali.  U.S. officials have repeatedly said the U.S. is not involved in the fighting.

France sent troops into Mali on Friday at the request of the country's interim government, as Islamist fighters began an offensive.  France says it will eventually deploy 2,500 soldiers who will stay in Mali until the situation is stable.

Nigeria deployed its first 190 soldiers to Mali on Wednesday.  The soldiers are the vanguard of a projected a 3,300-troop West African force authorized by the United Nations to help combat the militants.

Islamist threat

Al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists seized control of northern Mali after renegade soldiers toppled the government in March, leaving a temporary power vacuum.  The militants have imposed harsh conservative Islamic law across the north.

Western and United Nations officials are concerned that the Islamists could turn Mali into a base for terrorists and criminals.

Mali is a former French colony and France still has a variety of economic and political interests there.

French objectives

Recent French Interventions in Africa

  • Mali 2013:
    French forces launch air strikes on Islamists rebels.
  • Somalia 2013:
    French commandos are killed during failed hostage rescue mission.
  • Ivory Coast 2011:
    French forces move in after Laurent Gbagbo refuses to step down following contested elections.
  • Libya 2011:
    French planes are first to bomb Moammar Gadhafi's forces after U.N. votes to allow intervention to protect civilians.
President Francois Hollande says France's goals are stopping terrorist aggression, securing Bamako, and allowing Mali to recover its territorial integrity.  He also says France will support the African force that soon will be in Mali.

The West African bloc ECOWAS is speeding up its planned deployment to Mali, which had not been expected until September.

  • A French soldier holds his weapon in the village of Sarakala, Mali, January 18, 2013.
  • Goats walk past a French military convoy refuelling in Markala, Mali, January 18, 2013.
  • People cross a strategic bridge over a dam on the Niger River secured by French forces in Markala, Mali, January 18, 2013.
  • A Malian soldier checks the identity of people crossing a strategic bridge over a dam on the Niger River secured by French forces in Markala, Mali, January 18, 2013.
  • French military vehicles drive to the north of Mali, at an undisclosed location, January 16, 2013. (French Army Communication Audiovisual Office)
  • French helicopters are towed to the military side of Bamako's airport, Mali, January 16, 2013.
  • A motorcyclist waves his support as French troops in two armored personnel carriers drive through Mali's capital Bamako on the road to Mopti, January 15, 2013.
  • French soldiers walk past a hangar they are staying at the Malian army air base in Bamako, January 14, 2013.
  • French soldiers test equipment at the Malian air base in Bamako, January 14, 2013.
  • French air force technicians work on a Mirage F-1 fighter jet at the Malian army air base in Bamako, January 14, 2013.
  • A French soldiers lies on his mattress in a hangar at the Malian army air base in Bamako, January 14, 2013.



You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ejetavwo George from: Okurekpo, Delta State, Ni
January 16, 2013 8:10 AM
This problem of rebels seizing Northern Mali was a fallout of the army mutiny by some overzealous soldiers. These soldiers created a vacuum for the take over by these groups of Islamic terrorists. I feel these army mutinous officers who are still making the interim government unstable must be driven from powers as well. If they can seize power but cannot confront rebels, what morals do they still retain to remain in the government?.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid