• France's news in English

French and Malian troops score double victory

AFP · 18 Jan 2013, 18:41

Published: 18 Jan 2013 18:41 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

As the dramatic hostage siege unfolded in Algeria – where extremists took hundreds captive in a gas field to retaliate for the week-old French operation in Mali, sparking a deadly commando raid – fighting has continued unabated on the ground in Mali.

French and Malian troops scored two victories over the rebels on Friday after days of fighting in Konna, a key town about 700 kilometres (400 miles) from Bamako, and in Diabaly which is 400 kilometres north of the capital of the sprawling country.

"We have wrested total control of Konna after inflicting heavy losses on the enemy," the Malian army said in a brief statement.

Colonel Didier Dakouo, head of the Malian forces based in Sevare, south of Konna, told AFP his troops had "crushed the enemy."

A security source said Malian soldiers were backed by French air strikes to ease their entry into the town.

French and government troops take back key town

In Diabaly, which the Islamist militants had seized on Monday even as their bases were pounded by French fighter jets, local sources reported the rebels had been driven out.

"Diabaly is freed, the Islamists have left and the French and Malian troops have entered the town," said a member of the local municipal council. Her statement was confirmed by a regional security source.

The rebels' retreat coincided with a demand from veteran Algerian Islamist Mohktar Belmokhtar for talks to end the French campaign against extremists controlling the north of Mali.

Belmokhtar, a one-eyed Algerian jihadist with Al-Qaeda ties, has claimed responsibility for launching Wednesday's attack on an Algerian gas complex.

Story continues below…

A source close to him told Mauritania's ANI news agency that a video would be distributed to the media proposing that "France and Algeria negotiate an end to the war being waged by France in Azawad", or northern Mali.

The French military operation started a week ago and was prompted by the fall of Konna to rebels amid fears they would push south to the capital Bamako from their northern stronghold.

Paris says it already has 1,400 soldiers in Mali, set to increase to 2,500,while regional powers have pledged some 5,800 troops for an African military force.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available