First clashes between Islamist rebels and French troops in the town of Diabaly 1601134

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French Armed Forces Operation Serval in Mali

 
 
Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 04:38 PM
 
First clashes between Islamist rebels and French troops in the town of Diabaly.
Clash erupted between Al-Qaida- linked rebels and the Malian and French ground troops in Diabaly, 400 km from the capital Bamako, after they were surrounded, a security source told on Wednesday, January 16, 2013. Al-Qaida's North African branch AQIM briefly seized Diabaly on Monday, January 14, in a counter-attack launched from the west along the Mali- Mauritania border.
     
Clash erupted between Al-Qaida- linked rebels and the Malian and French ground troops in Diabaly, 400 km from the capital Bamako, after they were surrounded, a security source told on Wednesday, January 16, 2013. Al-Qaida's North African branch AQIM briefly seized Diabaly on Monday, January 14, in a counter-attack launched from the west along the Mali- Mauritania border.
A convoy of French armored vehicle ERC 90 Sagaie was spotted late Tuesday, January 15, 2013, heading toward Diabaly, the strategic town seized by the extremist militants a day earlier, said a resident of the nearby town of Segou.
     

The ground battle in Diabaly marked a shift of days of air raids to land operations between rebels and Mali's allies including France and the West African bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States).

Between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, about 200 French soldiers headed towards Diabaly in their first ground operation since Paris declared intervention on Friday, Mali's security source said.

The ground operation, which came after many rebels were reportedly killed and injured in airstrikes, might be difficult as "some of the terrorist and Islamist fighters had mixed with the Diabaly population while others had fled the town," the source indicated.

French intervention to stop rebels advancing south prompted an early than expected deployment of MISMA (Mission Internationale de Soutien au Mali sous conduite africaine), which was approved by the UN Security Council in December 2012 after submitted by ECOWAS.

 

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