DIABALY, Mali (Reuters) – Residents of Diabaly feared for their lives when French air strikes pounded their small town in central Mali, shaking their homes and turning the pick-up trucks of Islamist fighters into burning, twisted metal.
Despite that, they are grateful to France.
Children in bare feet and tattered T-shirts now play among the trucks’ charred wreckage — a visible reminder that the town was the focus of the French-led war against al Qaeda-linked rebels bent on carving an Islamist state out of the Sahara.
MARKALA, Mali/DAKAR, Jan 24 (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.
MARKALA, Mali (Reuters) – A contingent of 160 soldiers from Burkina Faso has deployed to Markala in central Mali, becoming the first West African troops to link up with French and Malian forces moving against al Qaeda-allied Islamist rebels occupying the north.
A Reuters correspondent in Markala, 237 km (147 miles) from the capital Bamako, saw the Burkinabe soldiers on Thursday near a military base in the dusty town of crumbling colonial era buildings and mud huts on the banks of the Niger River.
SEGOU, Mali (Reuters) – Mali’s army sealed off the central town of Sevare to journalists on Wednesday following allegations by residents and human rights groups that government soldiers had executed Tuaregs and Arabs accused of collaborating with Islamist rebels.
The allegations, which have been denied by the Malian army, threatened to cast a shadow over a French-led operation to drive Islamist fighters allied to al Qaeda from northern Mali.
DIABALY/SEGOU, Mali (Reuters) – The United States and African leaders threw their full diplomatic weight on Wednesday behind a campaign to expel Islamist rebels from Mali, as French air strikes harried the al Qaeda-allied fighters in their strongholds.
For nearly two weeks, French jets and helicopters have been hitting carefully selected targets around rebel-held Malian towns such as Gao and Timbuktu, while African troops gather for a planned ground offensive against the Islamist forces.
NIAMEY/BAMAKO (Reuters) – Chadian forces advanced towards the Mali border on Tuesday as an African troop deployment and a U.S. military airlift swelled international support for French operations against Islamist rebels occupying the north of Mali.
The aim of the intervention is to prevent northern Mali from becoming a launchpad for international attacks by al Qaeda and its local allies in North and West Africa. Fears of this increased sharply after a hostage-taking raid by Islamist militants last week on a gas plant in Algeria.
NIAMEY/BAMAKO, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Chadian forces advanced
towards the Malian border on Tuesday as an African troop
deployment and a U.S. military airlift swelled international
support for French operations against Islamist rebels occupying
the north of Mali.
An armoured column of Chadian troops, experienced in desert
operations, moved north from the Niger capital Niamey on the
road to Ouallam, some 100 km (60 miles) from the Malian border,
where Nigerien troops are already stationed.
DAKAR, Jan 15 (Reuters) – French strikes on al Qaeda-linked
rebels in Mali have raised the risk of revenge attacks on French
citizens in parts of Africa, officials say, although expatriates
and foreign companies were mainly taking the threats in their
French troops launched their first ground operation against
Islamist rebels on Wednesday after six days of air strikes.
ACCRA, Dec 13 (Reuters) – Ghana plans to refinance a $750
million Eurobond next year to benefit from falling interest
rates, and may seek to raise extra cash with the new issue, the
country’s finance minister said in an interview.
High-growth Ghana – Africa’s second-largest gold miner and
the world’s No.2 cocoa grower – aims to consolidate its status
as a middle-income nation. A smooth presidential election last
week boosted its reputation as a stable democracy.
ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama said on Tuesday he will press foreign energy and mining firms for more revenue during his new term, won in elections he said proved the strength of democracy in the West African state.
He said the cocoa, oil and gold-exporting country would respect existing contracts, but would seek to convince companies to agree changes to boost the state take from taxes and royalties.