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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid