Mali is slowly being liberated - French foreign minister

PARIS Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:18am GMT

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PARIS (Reuters) - A French-led offensive in Mali that forced out al Qaeda-allied Islamist insurgents from the towns of Gao and Timbuktu at the weekend shows that Mali is slowly being freed, the French foreign minister said on Monday.

"Little by little, Mali is being liberated," Laurent Fabius told France 2 television.

But Fabius cautioned that armed fighters from the Islamist alliance in north Mali, who had sought to impose Islamic law in the vast desert area, were now hiding and could reappear.

"The terrorist groups are carrying out a strategy of evasion and some of them could return in the north, primarily in Mali," Fabius warned. He declined to say whether France would intervene again if the militants returned.

Weekend gains by French and Malian forces capped a two-week offensive, involving warplanes and ground troops, launched to halt a southward push toward the capital, Bamako, by the loose coalition of Islamic militants.

French and Malian armoured columns forced fighters out of the central Malian towns of Diabaly and Douentza last week, and in recent days have inched their way northward.

"We are winning back a series of towns with the Malians," said Fabius, adding that troops from an African intervention force were preparing to deploy. Soldiers from Chad and Nigeria are already on the ground.

(Reporting By Alexandria Sage)

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Comments (2)
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
Mali is slowly being liberated – French foreign minister

Of its land…

French are surely slurring many a conservative/traditional Gulf State in their criticisms of Sharia based societies?

Jan 28, 2013 8:32pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
So which AQIM is good, and which is bad for France FP?

LIFG appears to be Ok with them when removing Gaddafi for them, whilst Ansar Dine appears to be out of favour at present.

See which way the wind blows with the follow-on conflict!

Jan 28, 2013 10:05pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
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