Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


French destroy Islamist bases in Mali

25 January 2013, 08:31

Bamako - French warplanes destroyed two Islamist bases in northern Mali as a leading al-Qaeda-linked group in the region split Thursday, with the breakaway group saying it wanted talks to end a Paris-led offensive against the militants.

The French bombing raids overnight targeted Ansongo, about 80km from the town of Gao and extremist bases in the nearby village of the Seyna Sonrai, a Malian military source said on condition of anonymity.

"French military planes successfully attacked Islamist positions at Ansongo and nearby areas," the source said. "The strikes were very successful and caused damage to the enemy."

A security source in Niger confirmed the raids, saying "two main bases of the Islamists were destroyed" as well as their fuel stocks and armoury.

More than 2 000 Chadian soldiers and 500 troops from Niger are being deployed at Ouallam in Niger, near the Mali border, to open a second front against the Islamists as part of a UN-mandated African force to boost, and eventually take over, the two-week-long French-led campaign.

The battle-hardened Chadian soldiers are adept at desert warfare and are experienced in putting down rebellions at home and in neighbouring countries.

The first of the 6 000 troops pledged by African nations to support France started heading north, moving closer to the areas a trio of al-Qaeda-linked groups seized in April in the chaotic aftermath of a coup in Bamako.

But cracks emerged in the rebel front when a faction announced it had broken away from Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith).

The newly-formed Islamic Movement for Azawad said in a statement it "rejected all forms of extremism and terrorism and was committed to fighting them", adding that it wanted a "peaceful solution" to the Mali crisis.

International support

The use of the term Azawad appeared to further signal a willingness among the group's Tuareg ranks to distance themselves from al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Malian insurgency's mainly foreign leadership.

The statement said the new group was composed entirely of Malian nationals and called on Mali and France to cease hostilities in the zones it was occupying in the northeastern regions of Kidal and Menaka "to create a climate of peace which will pave the way for an inclusive political dialogue".

The UN has authorised the deployment of a 3 300-strong force under the auspices of 15-nation West African bloc Ecowas. The involvement of non-member Chad could boost its numbers by another 2 000.

Most of the estimated 1 000 African soldiers now in Mali are still in Bamako but a Malian defence source said a group of 160 troops from Burkina Faso had started making its way to central regions nearer the frontline.

France's surprise decision to intervene on 11 January has received broad international support with South Africa the latest country to give its backing.

"From the French perspective, the issue in Mali was a terrorist threat involving al-Qaeda in the Arab Maghreb which posed a threat not only to neighbouring countries in Africa but also to European countries," deputy foreign minister Ebrahim Ebrahim said.

But there has been increasing alarm about reports of rights abuses by Malian soldiers on ethnic Tuaregs and Arabs.

The International Federation of Human Rights Leagues said at least 31 people were executed in the central town of Sevare, and some bodies dumped in wells, according to local researchers.


Two Tuaregs were also executed by Malian soldiers in the central town of Niono, it said, calling for an immediate independent inquiry to "determine the scale of the abuses and to punish the perpetrators".

Human Rights Watch said its investigators had spoken to witnesses who saw the executions of two Tuareg men in the village of Siribala, near Niono.

It also said witnesses had reported "credible information" of soldiers sexually abusing women in a village near Sevare, and called on the government to urgently investigate.

France has already deployed 2 300 soldiers in its former colony, whose poorly trained and equipped force has been overwhelmed by the Islamist rebels occupying the vast arid north and seeking to push south.

Mali's crisis began when Tuaregs revived a decades-old rebellion for independence of the north, which they call Azawad.

They allied with hardline Islamists and seized the key towns of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu in a matter of days. The Islamists later broke with the Tuareg and have imposed a harsh form of Islamic law in the north.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...