Mali's President asks the help of France for a military operation against Islamist rebels 1101131
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Defence News - Mali
|Friday, January 11, 2013, 08:59 AM|
|Mali's President asks the help of France for a military operation against Islamist rebels.|
Mali's president has asked France for help countering an offensive rebel groups who control the northern half of the country and are heading south. Mali has requested military aid from France after Islamists drove the army out of the northern town of Konna on Thursday, January 10, 2013, in the worst fighting the country has seen since militants took control of the north in April.
The Mali army attacked Islamist rebels with heavy weapons in the center of the country which divides the insurgent-held north and the government-controlled south, government officials said Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013.
Mali asked for military help from France after residents of the strategic northern town of Konna said Islamist rebels drove out the Malian army on Thursday, the fiercest fighting since militants took control of the country’s north nine months ago.
Islamist armed group Ansar Dine, among the groups occupying the north of Mali for nine months, has taken control of the central Malian city of Kona in Mopti province.
|Western and regional governments are keen to dislodge the Islamists from a desert zone of northern Mali larger than France, which they captured in April, amid concerns they may use it as a launch pad to stage attacks. |
Konna was the last buffer between the rebels and Mopti, about 50 km (30 miles) south, which is the main town in the region and is seen as the gateway to the country’s north.
After hours of gun battles, heavily armed Islamist fighters paraded in triumph through Konna’s centre, saying they would push on to take Mopti and its neighbouring town of Sevare, residents said.