French troops advance north

2013-01-20 16:35
French foreign legionnaires get ready in Niono, 400 kilometers north of the capital Bamako. (Jerome Delay, AP)

French foreign legionnaires get ready in Niono, 400 kilometers north of the capital Bamako. (Jerome Delay, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Bamako - French troops on Sunday advanced towards Mali's Islamist-held north as Russia and Canada offered to help transport French and African soldiers to boost the Paris-led offensive.

The progress towards the jihadist strongholds came amid reports that the al-Qaeda linked militants were abandoning some of their positions and converging on the mountainous region of Kidal, their northernmost bastion, 1 500km from Bamako and near the border with Algeria.

"The deployment towards the north... which began 24 hours ago, is on course with troops inside the towns of Niono and Sevare,"  Emmanuel Dosseur told reporters.

Niono is about 350km north-east of the Malian capital and 60km south of Diabaly, which was seized nearly a week ago by Islamists and then heavily bombed by French planes.

Sevare has a strategically important airport which could help serve as a base for operations further north. It is about 630km north-east of Bamako.

The town is also near Konna, whose seizure by Islamists on 10 January sparked the French military intervention in the former colony against the forces occupying northern Mali for about nine months.

"We are in a phase of pushing forward," said a French lieutenant-colonel in charge of operations in Niono and the town of Diabaly, whose fate remained unclear on Sunday amid conflicting claims over whether the Islamists there had been routed.

"In Diabaly, the situation is not very clear but it appears the rebel fighters have left the town," he said, identifying himself as only Frederic.

The region where the towns are located is known for housing the most battle-hardened and fanatical Islamists.

Dissuasion

French-led Malian troops patrolled the outskirts of Diabaly on Sunday in a show of force.

"This mission of observation and dissuasion is mainly aimed at stopping any infiltration southwards by the militants," a Malian security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The jihadists are increasingly leaving other areas to go towards Kidal which is a hilly region," another security official said.

Kidal was the first town seized by an amalgam of al-Qaeda linked militants and Tuareg separatist groups in March last year. The two sides then had a falling out and the Islamists have since gained the upper hand in the vast desert north.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday that Russia had offered to help transport troops and supplies to Mali and Canada had offered help to bring African troops to the country.

Only about 100 soldiers from a planned 5 800- strong African force have so far reached Mali, while France said has 2 000 soldiers already on the ground.

Asked on Europe 1 radio about how African troops would be transported, Fabius said "there is transportation that will be partly by the Africans themselves, partly by the Europeans and partly by the Canadians."

"And the Russians have proposed to provide means of transport for the French, so it's fairly diverse," he said.

The announcement came a day after an emergency West African summit of the Ecowas regional bloc called on the United Nations "to immediately provide financial and logistical backing for the deployment of Misma", the African force.

African troop deployments have always been long-drawn affairs. A diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "The truth is that Ecowashas no money to transport its troops".

Fabius, who also attended the summit, said it was time for the Africans to take charge of the task of halting the extremist advance "as soon as possible".

"It is vital that the maximum number of countries worldwide contribute" to the effort, Fabius said, speaking ahead of a donors' conference in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on 29 January.

Germany Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Sunday responded to the appeal, pledging extra aid at the meeting but without setting an amount.

"The African troops need financial aid. During the donors' conference in Addis Ababa at the end of the month, Germany will assume its responsibilities," he wrote in the Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag.

Read more on:    russia  |  france  |  mali  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Delft - 20:37 PM
    Road name: R300 Southbound
    ROADWORKS - left lane closed at Hindle Road
  • Wednesday Sir Lowry's Pass - 17:57 PM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9790

Bold Design The BlackBerry Bold 9790 smartphone combines the iconic BlackBerry...

From R2979.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be required to travel or get information for your job. This may be restricting in some way or something may slow things...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.