Fighting wounds 86 in Mali's Mopti, Gao

2013-01-15 15:15

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UN supports French action in Mali

2013-01-15 12:04

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he welcomed international response to Mali's request for assistance against terrorist groups.VIEW

Dakar - Eighty six people have been hospitalised in the central Malian city of Mopti and in Gao in the rebel-held north with injuries sustained in the French offensive against Islamist insurgents, a Red Cross official said on Wednesday.

"At the hospital in Mopti, we have 71 people wounded following the fighting in Konna," a town 70 km north of Mopti that was briefly seized by Islamists last week, said regional Red Cross official Germain Mwehu, reached by telephone from Dakar.

He did not specify if the wounded were fighters or civilians. No figures were available on fatalities, he added.

The Red Cross has not yet been able to enter Konna itself to assess the number of wounded there, he said.

The Islamists seized Konna on 10 January, before being driven out by Malian forces backed by French air power. Mali's government has already reported 11 dead and some 60 wounded among the Malian military. One French soldier was also killed in the fighting.

In the Islamist stronghold of Gao in the north, the Red Cross said 15 people were hospitalised following the French aerial offensive on Sunday, Mwehu said.

France launched its military offensive in the west African nation on Friday as the Islamists who have occupied northern Mali since April began advancing towards Bamako.

The hold by al-Qaeda linked armed Islamists on the vast swathes of Mali's northern desert had sparked fear in the international community that the zone could become a new breeding ground for terrorists.

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