News / Africa

French Troops Capture Key Airport in Northern Mali

French soldiers in a British made armored car lead a  French supply convoy near Hambori, northern Mali, on the road to Gao, February 4, 2013.
French soldiers in a British made armored car lead a French supply convoy near Hambori, northern Mali, on the road to Gao, February 4, 2013.
VOA News
French forces battling Islamist militants in northern Mali have taken a strategic airport near the Algerian border.

The French defense ministry said Friday that special forces have seized the airport at Tessalit, a small town in Mali's Kidal region, and are moving to secure the town itself with the help of Chadian troops.

The airport would give French-led forces another base in their fight against the militants, who have fled into the Sahara after losing control of northern Mali's major cities.

A French tank is seen heading north at the tail end of military convoy in Gao, February 6, 2013.A French tank is seen heading north at the tail end of military convoy in Gao, February 6, 2013.
x
A French tank is seen heading north at the tail end of military convoy in Gao, February 6, 2013.
A French tank is seen heading north at the tail end of military convoy in Gao, February 6, 2013.
Fighting continued elsewhere in Mali Friday.  Outside the city of Gao, a suicide bomber driving a motorcycle blew himself up near a military checkpoint.  One soldier was wounded in the blast.

A local journalist, Soumalia Maiga, ran to the scene as soon as he heard the explosion. 

He says the explosion happened less than 10 meters from the checkpoint.  He says people in the town are afraid to go to the market and some are even afraid to go to the mosque for Friday prayers.  He says it is impossible to know whether the bomber was trying to hit the checkpoint or was trying to get inside the town.

The French news agency, AFP, reports that the Islamist group MUJAO claimed responsibility for the attack.

A soldier patrols near a burning road block outside the paratrooper camp, home of the former president's Red Beret presidential guard, in Bamako, February 8, 2013.A soldier patrols near a burning road block outside the paratrooper camp, home of the former president's Red Beret presidential guard, in Bamako, February 8, 2013.
x
A soldier patrols near a burning road block outside the paratrooper camp, home of the former president's Red Beret presidential guard, in Bamako, February 8, 2013.
A soldier patrols near a burning road block outside the paratrooper camp, home of the former president's Red Beret presidential guard, in Bamako, February 8, 2013.
​In Mali's capital, Bamako, army soldiers opened fire on an elite paratroopers' camp.  A military source tells VOA that one paratrooper was killed and at least six other people wounded.

The paratroopers, known as the Red Berets, were loyal to ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure and had refused assignments to go to the north as part of regular army units.

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
  •  
France wants to begin handing over its four-week-old military operation to the Malian army and African forces.  But officials say any transfer will have to wait until Mali's security situation stabilizes.

France has proposed the United Nations establish a peacekeeping mission in Mali.  Diplomats have said privately that a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the mission is not likely before the end of February.  It could take another two months after that to transition the African forces into U.N. peacekeepers.

The Mali crisis began in early 2012 when the Tuareg separatist group MNLA launched a rebellion in the north. The MNLA and Islamist militants seized control of the north after the March coup in Bamako, but the MNLA was soon swept aside as the militants imposed harsh Islamic law on the region.

At the request of Mali's government, French forces entered the country last month to drive back the al-Qaida-linked militants who had begun moving in the direction of the capital, Bamako.

  • Malian soldiers man a bridge at the entrance of Gao, northern Mali where a suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed himself attempting to blow up an army checkpoint, Feb. 8, 2013.
  • Malian soldiers stand by a motorcycle used by a suicide bomber at the entrance of Gao, northern Mali, Feb. 8, 2013.
  • Malian soldiers inspect an explosive they found after residents notified authorities of suspicious bags left by radicals when they fled Gao, northern Mali, February 6, 2013.
  • A Malian man walks between doors of closed shops in Gao, northern Mali, February 5, 2013.
  • A child stands by his donkey cart, in Gao, northern Mali, February 5, 2013.
  • Men carry humanitarian food aid toward boats, Mopti, Mali, February 4, 2013.
  • A Malian woman looks at men carrying humanitarian food aid, Mopti, Mali, February 4, 2013.
  • Malian soldiers escort prisoners, who are suspected al-Qaida-allied fighters, in front of a military cell in Mopti, Mali, February 4, 2013.
  • A convoy of Malian troops on the road to Gao, northern Mali, February 4, 2013.
  • French President Francois Hollande holds hands with Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traoré in Timbuktu, Mali, February 2, 2013.
  • A man takes a close look at a burned-out truck in Timbuktu, Mali, January 31, 2013.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Theodore Sternberg from: San Francisco, CA
February 09, 2013 3:34 AM
The title is misleading. There is no "key airport", or "key" anything for that matter, in Mali.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid