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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More