France launches Mali military intervention..the French..
President Francois Hollande has said France is intervening to stop al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Mali who have been moving toward the capital, Bamako.
The announcement by the leader of France, the former colonial overseer in West Africa, came on Friday after Mali’s interim president Dioncounda Traore appealed for French help in stopping the rebels’ advance.
“I have agreed to Mali’s demand, which means French forces provided support to Mali this afternoon,” Hollande said. “The operation will last as long as is necessary.”
The Malian president declared a state of emergency on Friday, and French Foreign minister Laurent Fabius said France’s military had already carried out air strikes.
Earlier on Friday, a Mali government official told the AFP news agency that Mali’s army was being backed by Western military personnel in a fresh counter-offensive against the fighters.
“European military, including French, are present in Mali to repel any southward advance by the Islamists,” the official told AFP on Friday.
“We will not reveal their number, nor where they are based, nor what equipment they have.
“They are here. We thank these countries who have understood that we are dealing with terrorists.”
Efforts to retake the central town of Kona were launched from Sevare, a town about 70km to the south, where the Malian army has a command base.
Kona was seized by Islamist armed groups on Thursday and about 1,200 fighters have moved to within 20km of Mopti, a strategically important town on the frontier between rebel-held and government-held territories.
Mopti hosts a key Malian military airstrip, which would be vital for any missions into the north of the country.
Until now, France – like other EU countries – had limited its plans for assistance to training and logistics support for Mali’s troubled army, and had deferred to Mali and its African neighbours to resolve the crisis.
“They really needed to be propped up by another force,” said Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Paris. “It doesn’t seem like Mali’s government has much time.”
the french indeed..the silent hidden agitator..the one who throws the rocks and then hides and watches as others participate in a riot..
this is about oil..as always..and look..they are fighting al qaeda in mali and somalia..but with them in syria..its a joke!