West and Central Africa Correspondent
David's Feed
Feb 2, 2013

Malians say “Thank you, France!” as Hollande visits

TIMBUKTU, Mali (Reuters) – Malians chanting “Thank you, France!” mobbed President Francois Hollande on Saturday as he visited the desert city of Timbuktu, retaken from Islamist rebels, and pledged France’s sustained support for Mali to expel jihadists.

Hollande, accompanied by his ministers for defense, foreign affairs and development, was on a one-day trip to the Sahel nation to support French troops who in three weeks have ousted fighters allied with al Qaeda from Mali’s main northern towns.

Feb 2, 2013

French president in Mali to back French troops, visits Timbuktu

TIMBUKTU, Mali (Reuters) – French President Francois Hollande flew to Mali on Saturday to support French troops fighting Islamist rebels in the Sahel nation, and he visited the famed ancient city of Timbuktu that was recaptured from al Qaeda-allied fighters six days ago.

Hollande, accompanied by his ministers for defense, foreign affairs and development, was greeted by a group of dancers and singers at Timbuktu airport and then went on to visit the Grand Mosque in the UNESCO World Heritage Site city.

Feb 1, 2013

France, Africa face tough Sahara phase of Mali war

BAMAKO/DAKAR (Reuters) – The French or African troops who hunt down the Islamist fighters holed up in the mountains and deserts of northeast Mali may find a resilient enemy capable of fighting back with a concealed arsenal of surprising firepower.

France’s initial success in its three-week old intervention in its former colony has gained Paris plaudits at home and abroad as a welcome blow struck against radical jihadists threatening Africa and the West.

Feb 1, 2013

Analysis: France, Africa face tough Sahara phase of Mali war

BAMAKO/DAKAR (Reuters) – The French or African troops who hunt down the Islamist fighters holed up in the mountains and deserts of northeast Mali may find a resilient enemy capable of fighting back with a concealed arsenal of surprising firepower.

France’s initial success in its three-week old intervention in its former colony has gained Paris plaudits at home and abroad as a welcome blow struck against radical jihadists threatening Africa and the West.

Jan 24, 2013

Mali Islamists suffer split as Africans prepare assault

MARKALA, Mali/DAKAR (Reuters) – A split emerged on Thursday in the alliance of Islamist militant groups occupying northern Mali as French and African troops prepared a major ground offensive aimed at driving al Qaeda and its allies from their safe haven in the Sahara.

A senior negotiator from the Ansar Dine rebels who helped seize the north from Mali’s government last year said he was now part of a faction that wanted talks and rejected the group’s alliance with al Qaeda’s North African franchise AQIM.

Jan 24, 2013

Mali Islamist group splits, faction leader wants talks

DAKAR (Reuters) – A faction of one of the armed Islamist groups occupying the north of the Mali has split off from its al Qaeda allies and says it is willing to hold talks with the government, the leader of the new group said on Thursday.

Alghabass Ag Intallah, a senior member of the Tuareg-led Ansar Dine group which helped seize northern Mali last year from government forces, said he had created a new organization, the Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA), and was ready to seek a negotiated solution to Mali’s conflict.

Jan 18, 2013

After Algerian incident, West Africa fears Mali spill over

DAKAR (Reuters) – By seizing hundreds of hostages at a gas plant in the Algerian desert, al Qaeda-linked militants angry at French intervention in Mali sent a clear message: they could strike anywhere in the Sahara.

Many experts now believe the sight of a former colonial power leading unprepared West African armies into war against Islamists in Mali could spark similar attacks across a swathe of smaller, more vulnerable nations to the south.

Jan 18, 2013

Analysis: After Algerian incident, West Africa fears Mali spillover

DAKAR (Reuters) – By seizing hundreds of hostages at a gas plant in the Algerian desert, al Qaeda-linked militants angry at French intervention in Mali sent a clear message: they could strike anywhere in the Sahara.

Many experts now believe the sight of a former colonial power leading unprepared West African armies into war against Islamists in Mali could spark similar attacks across a swathe of smaller, more vulnerable nations to the south.

Jan 15, 2013

Analysis: Mali’s Islamist groups united by war threat

DAKAR (Reuters) – A powerful southern offensive by Islamists in Mali last week, halted only by French air strikes, showed that a loose alliance of rebels from al Qaeda’s North African wing and local groups has been united by the threat of foreign intervention.

When the coalition of Islamists swept across northern Mali last year, massacring army troops and carving up the vast desert zone, ties between Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and local groups Ansar Dine and MUJWA had looked opportunistic, and regional mediators believed they could prize them apart.

Nov 21, 2012

U.N. defends failed attempt to halt capture of Congo’s Goma

KINSHASA/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United Nations defended its failed effort to prevent rebels from seizing the Congolese city of Goma, saying on Wednesday its helicopters had fired hundreds of rockets at rebels but were unable to beat them back as their ranks swelled.

Advancing M23 rebels seized the North Kivu capital on Tuesday after Democratic Republic of Congo soldiers fled.