West and Central Africa Correspondent
David's Feed
Feb 11, 2013

Rebels’ raid poses Mali guerrilla war threat for French

GAO, Mali (Reuters) – Malian troops hunted house-to-house in Gao on Monday for Islamist insurgents whose surprise attack inside the northern town at the weekend posed a risk of France’s forces becoming entangled in a messy guerrilla war in Mali.

Sneaking across the Niger River under cover of darkness, the al Qaeda-allied rebels fought Malian and French troops on Sunday in the sandy streets of the ancient Saharan trading town, retaken from the Islamists two weeks ago.

Feb 11, 2013

Gunbattle rocks Gao after rebels surprise French, Malians

GAO, Mali (Reuters) – Islamist insurgents launched a surprise raid in the heart of the Malian town of Gao on Sunday, battling French and local troops in a blow to efforts to secure Mali’s recaptured north.

Local residents hid in their homes or crouched behind walls as the crackle of gunfire from running street battles resounded through the sandy streets and mud-brick houses of the ancient Niger River town, retaken from Islamist rebels last month by a French-led offensive.

Feb 10, 2013

French, Malian troops fight Islamist rebels inside Gao

GAO, Mali (Reuters) – French and Malian troops fought running gun battles with Islamist rebel guerrillas in the north Mali town of Gao on Sunday, in clashes that showed up big gaps in security in a zone recently recaptured by a French-led military offensive.

Gunfire resounded through the sandy streets and mud-brick houses of the ancient town on the Niger River, hours after French and Malian forces reinforced a checkpoint that had been attacked for the second time in two days by a suicide bomber.

Feb 10, 2013

Second Mali suicide attack points to fragile security

GAO, Mali (Reuters) – Malian troops foiled a second suicide bomber attack in the northern town of Gao late on Saturday, highlighting fragile security in zones recaptured by a French-led offensive that is hunting Islamist insurgent bases further north.

French forces rushed reinforcements and armored vehicles on Sunday to the Malian army checkpoint on Gao’s northern outskirts which was the same location attacked by another suicide bomber on a motorcycle on Friday.

Feb 8, 2013

French charge north in Mali, Bamako shooting kills two

BAMAKO/GAO, Mali (Reuters) – French forces hunting Islamist rebels in northern Mali parachuted into a strategic town and took control on Friday, but a suicide bombing further south and the killing of two civilians by soldiers in the capital Bamako raised fresh security fears.

In their hot pursuit of al Qaeda-allied militants in Mali’s remote Saharan northeast, French special forces seized the town and airfield of Tessalit, about 50 km (30 miles) from the Algerian border.

Feb 8, 2013

Foreign hostages in Mali were held in Timbuktu until its fall

TIMBUKTU (Reuters) – A feared commander of al Qaeda’s North African wing kept several foreign hostages locked in a house in Timbuktu until just before French and Malian troops captured the ancient desert trading town last month, residents said.

Islamist rebels in northern Mali, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), are holding at least seven French citizens, a Swede, a Dutchman, and a South African kidnapped in recent years in parts of the Sahara desert.

Feb 6, 2013

Stretched in Timbuktu, French wait for African reinforcements

TIMBUKTU, Mali (Reuters) – Patrolling Timbuktu’s maze of mud-brick houses, the French troops quickly lost their way, their jeeps stuck, wheels spinning, in the sand of the ancient Saharan trading town.

“We don’t know the terrain and sometimes we are working with maps that are out of date,” said the patrol leader, Sergeant Jeremy, who like other French soldiers deployed in Mali was only authorized to give his first name.

Feb 3, 2013

Mali’s soccer victory caps Timbuktu’s post-Islamist rebirth

TIMBUKTU, Mali (Reuters) – For months, Salaha Najim would discreetly put up a satellite dish banned by the Islamist rebels in dusty Timbuktu, close the shutters of his house and turn on the television to watch soccer with the sound turned down.

On Saturday, the windows were open wide again and the volume was unashamedly loud as Mali’s national team, the Eagles, beat South Africa in a penalty shootout to reach the semifinals of the African Nations Cup.

Feb 3, 2013

Mali hails “savior” Hollande, he says fight not over

TIMBUKTU, Mali/BAMAKO (Reuters) – Cheering, grateful Malians mobbed French President Francois Hollande on Saturday as he visited French troops fighting Islamist jihadist rebels, and he pledged France would finish the job of restoring government control in the Sahel state.

In a one-day trip to Mali accompanied by his ministers for defense, foreign affairs and development, Hollande was hailed as a liberator in the ancient northern city of Timbuktu, which French and Malian forces retook from the rebels six days ago.

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.