West & Central Africa Correspondent, Dakar
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Jan 19, 2013

French troops bring relief, business to central Mali town

SARAKALA, Mali (Reuters) – Early this week, Koura Coulibaly was ready to pack her bags and abandon Sarakala, a small village in central Mali.

Three days into an offensive by French war planes and attack helicopters, Islamist rebels launched a dramatic counter-attack, seizing the town of Diabaly town from Mali’s army, about 100 km (60 miles) away.

Jan 19, 2013

France seeks support for Africa’s Mali force

ABIDJAN/NIONO, Mali (Reuters) – France called on Saturday on other world powers to commit money and logistical support for African armies readying their troops to join French soldiers already battling al Qaeda-linked militants in Mali.

The appeal came as African leaders met in Ivory Coast where they are expected to agree details of a regional mission that is due to take over from French forces but is short on financing, planning and even ammunition.

Jan 18, 2013

Mali army retakes town, Islamists flee French air raids

BAMAKO/MARKALA, Mali, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Islamist rebels in
Mali abandoned the central town of Diabaly on Friday after
fleeing a French air strike, military sources said, while West
African troops arrived in Bamako to take on the insurgents in
Mali’s north.

France, warning that Islamist control over Mali’s vast
deserts and rugged mountains threatened the security of Africa
and the West, had targeted Diabaly in an eighth day of air
strikes to dislodge hardened al Qaeda-linked fighters there.

Jan 18, 2013

French, Malian forces retake front-line town from Islamists

BAMAKO/MARKALA, Mali, Jan 18 (Reuters) – French and Malian
soldiers wrested control of the central town of Diabaly from
Islamist rebels on Friday, its mayor said, and West African
reinforcements arrived in Bamako to take on the insurgents
dominating the north of Mali.

France, warning that Islamist control over Mali’s vast
desert north threatens the security of Africa and the West, had
targeted Diabaly in an eighth day of air strikes aimed at
dislodging hardened al Qaeda-linked fighters there.

Jan 18, 2013

West African troops arrive in Mali to aid French mission

BAMAKO/SEGOU, Mali (Reuters) – The first West African regional forces arrived in Mali on Thursday to reinforce French and Malian troops battling to push back al Qaeda-linked rebels after seven days of French air strikes.

A contingent of around 100 Togolese troops landed in Bamako and was due to be joined by Nigerian forces already en route. Nigerien and Chadian forces were massing in Niger, Mali’s neighbor to the east.

Jan 17, 2013

French surround Malian town, await African troops

BAMAKO, Jan 17 (Reuters) – French troops surrounded the
Malian town of Diabaly on Thursday, keeping Islamists rebels who
had seized it three days ago bottled up while a West African
military force took shape.

The French held back from launching a full-out assault on
the town as the Al Qaeda linked rebels had taken refuge in the
homes of civilians.

Jan 17, 2013

Sahara hostage siege turns Mali war global

ALGIERS/BAMAKO (Reuters) – Islamist fighters have opened an international front in Mali’s civil war by taking dozens of Western hostages at a gas plant in the Algerian desert just as French troops launched an offensive against rebels in neighboring Mali.

Nearly 24 hours after gunmen stormed the natural gas pumping site and workers’ housing before dawn on Wednesday, little was certain beyond a claim by a group calling itself the “Battalion of Blood” that it was holding 41 foreign nationals, including Americans, Japanese and Europeans, at Tigantourine, deep in the Sahara.

Jan 16, 2013

Sahara Islamists take hostages, spreading Mali war

ALGIERS/BAMAKO, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Islamist fighters seized
dozens of Western and Algerian hostages in a dawn raid on a
natural gas facility deep in the Sahara on Wednesday and
demanded France halt a new offensive against rebels in
neighbouring Mali.

Three people, among them one British and one French, were
reported killed, but details were sketchy and numbers of those
held at Tigantourine ranged from 41 foreigners – including
perhaps seven Americans as well as Japanese and Europeans – to
over 100 local staff, held separately and less closely watched.

Jan 16, 2013

France launches ground campaign against Mali rebels

BAMAKO/PARIS, Jan 16 (Reuters) – French troops launched
their first ground assault against Islamist rebels in Mali on
Wednesday in a broadening of their operation against
battle-hardened al Qaeda-linked fighters who have resisted six
days of air strikes.

France has called for international support against Islamist
insurgents it says pose a threat to Africa and the West,
acknowledging it faces a long fight against the well-equipped
militant fighters who seized Mali’s vast desert north last year.

Jan 16, 2013

French, Malian troops encircle Islamist rebels in central Mali

BAMAKO/PARIS, Jan 16 (Reuters) – French ground troops and
Malian army forces encircled Islamist fighters in the central
Malian town of Diabaly on Wednesday, military sources said, as
France prepared to launch its first ground assault on the

France, which has warned that Islamists’ seizure of Mali’s
desert north last year represented a threat to the security of
the West, moved a column of armoured vehicles on Tuesday into
position at the nearby town of Niono, some 300 km (190 miles)
from the dusty riverside capital Bamako.

    • About Bate

      "Bate Felix is a Dakar-based West & Central Africa Correspondent. He joined Reuters in 2007 as a graduate trainee and has worked in Johannesburg, London, Brussels, Paris and Amsterdam. He now covers economics, politics and general news stories in over a dozen countries in West & Central Africa."
      Joined Reuters:
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