French Army Special Forces killed around 10 Islamist rebels in gun battle north of Timbuktu 1210133

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Defence & Security News - France

 
 
Saturday, October 12, 2013 01:00 PM
 
French Army Special Forces killed around 10 Islamist rebels in gun battle north of Timbuktu.
French Army Special Forces killed around 10 Islamist rebels in a gun battle in northern Mali this month, Paris said on Thursday, as simmering violence threatens security at November elections and will delay a French troop withdrawal. The battle, which took place north of Timbuktu on 1 October, was some of the heaviest fighting since a French military intervention dislodged rebel forces in control of northern Mali early this year.
     
French special forces killed around 10 Islamist rebels in a gun battle in northern Mali this month, Paris said on Thursday, as simmering violence threatens security at November elections and will delay a French troop withdrawal. The battle, which took place north of Timbuktu on 1 October, was some of the heaviest fighting since a French military intervention dislodged rebel forces in control of northern Mali early this year.
French special forces drive through the city of Gao, Northern Mali, Wednesday Jan. 30, 2013. Islamist extremists fled the city Saturday after French, Chadian and Nigerien troops arrived, ending 10 months of radical islamic control over the city. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
     

France, which sent soldiers to its former colony in January to oust militias who had taken over swathes of the West African country, will not draw down troop numbers to 1,000, from 3,200 by year-end as initially planned, a spokesman confirmed.

"We want to continue our reduction of troops to 1,000 by late January, early February," armed forces spokesman Gilles Jaron told a news conference.

Despite the French troops and a U.N. peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA), there have been several attacks this month targeting in particular Malian forces.

French special forces battled "armed terrorist groups" on Oct. 1 in the village of Douaya, north of Timbuktu, after receiving intelligence suggesting militants were in the area, Jaron said.

Armed group opened fire from a pick-up truck on a French helicopter, he said. Suspected people in other vehicles escaped.

"Four hours after the start of the clashes, a large number of terrorists were neutralized, by that we mean around 10 fighters," Jaron said. "They all fought to the end without wanting to surrender at any point."

A MINUSMA source said 12 pickups with suspected Islamist militants had been sighted about 60 km (40 miles) west of Timbuktu in early October.

A local Tuareg source also said that several units linked to al Qaeda's north African arm AQIM had gathered in the region.

 

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