Islamists destroy bridge near Niger border in Mali
TOPSHOTS This handout picture released and taken on January 22, 2013 by French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) shows a C-17 military transport aircraft of the US Air Force (USAF) at the French military air base in Istres, southern France, carrying troops and military equipment to Mali as part of the French military operation codenamed Serval. The Pentagon said on January 22 the US Air Force had deployed C-17 cargo planes for five sorties, carrying more than 80 French troops and 140 tons of supplies to the war-torn African nation. AFP PHOTO / ARMEE DE L'AIR / ECPAD / ALAIN COURTILLAT RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / ARMEE DE L'AIR / ECPAD / ALAIN COURTILLAT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS NO ARCHIVES - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - TO BE USED WITHIN 30 DAYS FROM 01/21/2013Alain Courtillat/AFP/Getty Images
Photo by AFP/Getty Images
SEVARE, Mali — Islamists based in the Malian town of Ansongo have destroyed a bridge near the Niger border, officials said on Friday, marking the first use of explosives by the insurgents since the start of a French-led military intervention two weeks ago.
The explosion shows that the Islamists remain a nimble and daunting enemy, despite gains by the French, who have recaptured three towns from the jihadists and on Friday pushed toward the Islamist stronghold of Gao, one of three provincial capitals controlled by the al-Qaida-linked rebels.
Djibril Diallo, the village chief of Fafa, 12 miles from the bridge, said by telephone that he heard that members of the Movement for the Unity and Jihad in West Africa had traveled toward the border with Niger on Thursday and destroyed the bridge crossing into Tassiga. The rebel group had traveled from the locality of Ansongo, roughly 25 miles away.
“They exploded it. It was last night at around 9 p.m. The Islamists left their barracks in Ansongo after the airstrikes, and headed toward Niger. They caused the collapse of the bridge near the town of Tassiga, not far from Niger,” said Diallo.
The attack recalls insurgent tactics used in Iraq and Afghanistan. It appeared aimed at stopping the advance of African troops, stationed in neighboring Niger, who are expected to travel by road into Mali past Tassiga to retake the strategic town of Gao.
The attack causes concern about the bridge leading into the city of Gao, said Malian officials. There were reports that the same rebel group was on the bridge leading to Gao overnight, and that they planned to bomb it, but abandoned the idea.
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 â 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.