Clashes erupt in Timbuktu

2013-03-31 19:23

Bamako - Malian troops, backed by French forces, on Sunday clashed with Islamist fighters who had infiltrated the northern city of Timbuktu, leaving three jihadists and one Malian soldier dead, an army officer said.

"Jihadists have infiltrated the centre of Timbuktu... Our men are currently fighting them with the support of a unit of our French partners," said the Malian officer.

According to provisional information, three Malian soldiers were also wounded in the fighting that was still continuing into the late afternoon.

The Islamist fighters who had controlled the fabled Saharan city before French and Malian soldiers recaptured it in January have been able to blend into the population to launch attacks, infiltrating it by foot or bicycle.

The officer said fighting began when the Islamist rebels opened fire on two sides of the centre of the city, targeting a hotel serving as the temporary residence for the region's governor as well as a Malian military base.

A Malian security source said the governor and two foreign journalists had been among the people evacuated from the targeted hotel.

A suicide bomber blew himself up on Saturday when he tried to force his way through a military barricade at the western entrance to Timbuktu, wounding a soldier manning the checkpoint.

Mali has been the target of a series of attacks claimed by Islamist insurgents since France launched a military intervention in January against al-Qaeda-linked groups that had seized the north of the country.

The French-led operation has forced the extremists from the cities they seized in the chaotic aftermath of Mali's military coup in March 2012.

  • Nkosinathi.Sibbs - 2013-03-31 22:19

    Can someone shade light, why are French speaking African countries have wars,coups and France happen to have their troops there???

      pjthesecond.eldest - 2013-04-01 01:56

      When the moon shining lite, African countries speaking English don't have troops in UK. Alright?

      Alan Street - 2013-04-01 07:49

      Nathi, these countries have an abundance of mineral wealth. Once the dust has settled, the ex colonials will send the bill. This will be paid for in the form of exclusive rights for the further exploitation of this wealth in a deal made with the corrupt leaders. Sounds rather familiar, doesn't it? Take care.

  • Batlile Malik Ramasodi - 2013-04-01 17:03

    Wat kind of religion encourages murder?

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