Results tagged “Mali”
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Chad said it is withdrawing its forces from Mali, just days after three Chadian soldiers were killed by a suicide attack in Kidal. Tuaregs loyal to the Malian government are assisting the French to rid the country of Islamist militants.
A suicide bomber killed three Chadian soldiers and wounded four more in an attack in a Kidal market. A combat helicopter crashed outside Sevare, killing five Malian soldiers including a senior officer. The country's largest political party has picked a candidate for the presidential election this summer.
French Foreign Minister Drian visited the Ifhogas mountains, where French, Chadian, and Malian troops have been fighting Islamists, and stated that 70 per cent of the task of ridding the area of jihadists has been accomplished. He said the quantity and nature of weaponry seized showed that the jihadists planned to use Mali as a base for attacks on neighboring countries and Europe. France has begun withdrawing its troops, to the dismay of Malian leaders. Four civilians were killed in Timbuktu.
A force of 1,000 French troops has begun sweeping a valley north of Gao to rid the area of remaining Islamist militants. On the first day of the operation, no militants were found but 340 artillery shells and high-caliber rockets were discovered and neutralized. Malians in Timbuktu remain anxious that the militants will return, and French forces believe many of the militants have switched from trucks to camels to avoid airstrikes.
Chadian troops are being redeployed from the Ifoghas Mountains to Kidal, which is occupied by MNLA forces but is not fully secure. The French foreign minister visited Mali to discuss plans for the French withdrawal.
The European Union's Military Training Mission in Mali has begun training the country's estimated 6,000 soldiers; about 3,000 will be trained this year and some 670 should be combat-ready this summer. The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) issued a report on its operations in Mali since January, claiming nine operations, mostly in Gao, involving foreign as well as Malian fighters.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb took credit for the weekend's suicide attack in Timbuktu, stating on a Mauritanian website that the bomber was an Algerian from the Yusuf bin Tashfin brigade, formerly commanded by Abou Zeid. French and Malian forces, which are going door-to-door to root out remaining Islamist militants, have killed 11 militants in the city since the attack started on March 30.
A suicide car bomber detonated at a Timbuktu checkpoint, killing himself and wounding at least one soldier. Militants and Malian forces are fighting in the streets of Timbuktu. Outside the northern city of Asongo, two people were killed when an army vehicle drove over a roadside bomb.
French and African forces are conducting operations to rid Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal of remaining Islamist fighters. The Malian army reported two days ago that 63 Malian troops, five French troops, one Togolese soldier, one Burkinabe soldier, and 600 Islamist militants have been killed since the French-led intervention began in January. A confidential UN report says it is "unlikely" that elections planned for July will be held on time. The AFISMA force has about 6,300 soldiers from west African countries and Chad.
French President Hollande said French troops would begin pulling out of Mali in late April and then draw down from about 2,000 in July to 1,000 at the end of the year. French troops are expected to be part of a proposed UN peacekeeping force later this year. A presidential election is scheduled for July 7, with legislative elections two weeks later.