French forces take action against Mali Islamists
BAMAKO, Mali — France launched airstrikes on Friday to help the government of Mali defeat al-Qaida-linked militants who captured more ground this week, dramatically raising the stakes in the battle for this vast desert nation.
French President Francois Hollande said the “terrorist groups, drug traffickers and extremists” in northern Mali “show a brutality that threatens us all.” He vowed that the operation would last “as long as necessary.”
France said it was taking the action in Mali at the request of President Dioncounda Traore, who declared a state of emergency because of the militants' advance.
In Washington, a federal official told Reuters that the Pentagon was weighing options in Mali, including intelligence-sharing with France and logistics support.
On Thursday, the Islamists moved the closest they've been to territory under government control and fought the Malian military for the first time in months, seizing the strategic city of Konna.
Sanda Abou Moahmed, a spokesman for the Ansar Dine group, condemned Mali's president for seeking help from its former colonizer.
“While Dioncounda Traore asked for help from France, we ask for guidance from Allah and from other Muslims in our sub-region because this war has become a war against the crusaders,” Moahmed said by telephone from Timbuktu.
For the past nine months, the Islamic militants have controlled a large swath of northern Mali, a lawless desert region where kidnapping has flourished. The rebels imposed strict Shariah, or Islamic law, in the north, causing panic among residents.
“French armed forces supported Malian units this afternoon to fight against terrorist elements,” Hollande said in Paris.
He did not give any details of the operation, other than to say that it was aimed in part at protecting the 6,000 French citizens in Mali.
Late in the day, Reuters reported that Malian government troops were able to drive back the Islamist rebels from Konna, thanks to the French intervention.
“The Malian army has retaken Konna with the help of our military partners. We are there now,” Lt. Col. Diaran Kone told Reuters.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 2 Ukrainian military fighter jets shot down
- Train with Ukraine plane crash bodies leaves rebel town
- Ban of flights to and from Israel feared to bolster Hamas
- ‘Explosion of evil’ in Europe against Jews condemned
- Israel escalates aerial offensive on Gaza
- 21 killed, more than 100 injured in Moscow subway derailment; terrorism dismissed as cause
- U.S., EU strengthen sanctions against Russia over Ukraine conflict
- Defiant and smug, Assad begins 3rd term as Syrian president
- Half-million in Philippines flee Typhoon Rammasun
- Ruling finds Dutch libel in massacre in Srebrenica
- Israel agrees to call for 5-hour cease-fire; ground offensive a ‘high possibility’