Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.

 

Mali conflict kills 5th French soldier

18 March 2013, 12:17

Paris - A French corporal was killed tracking down jihadist fighters in their northern Mali mountain bastions, bringing to five the number of French deaths since Paris launched a military offensive in the country two months ago.

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday the 24-year-old soldier was killed and three of his comrades wounded when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb blast in the Ifoghas mountains, without saying when it happened.

Meanwhile, the African Union's Peace and Security Council was chairing an international conference in Nouakchott on the situation in northern Mali and the broader region where al-Qaeda-linked groups have been prospering.

With French special forces and aerial fire power, the French-led offensive took only days to reconquer the main cities in northern Mali, which Al-Qaeda's North African franchise and its allies had controlled since last spring.

But the bulk of Islamist fighters moved north to fight from their remote mountain strongholds and France has admitted that flushing them out was the most perilous phase of its involvement.

And in a sign the conflict is far from over, five missiles exploded a few kilometres outside the main northern city of Gao overnight, although there were no casualties.

The Islamists were driven from Gao on 26 January, but the city suffered a series of suicide attacks and other raids last month, which has led residents to fear for the worst when the French leave.

President Francois Hollande has already said he planned to scale back French military presence in the former colony as early as next month and start handing over responsibility to Malian troops and an African stabilisation force.

The Afisma force set up by regional west African bloc Ecowas has been slow to deploy however and it needs funding and training.

Humanitarian crisis

Residents of Gao, Timbuktu and other cities recaptured by French-led troops in January have voiced fears that Islamist fighters would resurface and sow terror in the region as soon as Paris withdraws its 4 000 soldiers.

However, according to a survey by a local charity, some 6 000 people who had fled Gao have recently moved back to their homes.

World Food Programme executive director Ertharin Cousin also warned on Sunday that the humanitarian crisis in Mali, once one of west Africa's most stable democracies, was far from over.

On a visit to Mali, she called for a redoubling of efforts to help the displaced return to their homes, saying there was still work to do.

The AU ministerial meeting in the Mauritanian capital, also attended by senior European Union and UN officials, was focused on "facilitating the realisation of Afisma's mandate".

The meeting was also due to look at ways of strengthening security along Mali's long desert borders, which Islamist fighters, drug smugglers and human traffickers have been crossing at leisure.

France has said a possible UN peacekeeping force that could number as many as 10 000 troops, could start deploying in June.

- AFP

Tags france mali
NEXT ON NEWS24 KENYAX

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
KISIKA SAMUEL
Cashless matatu fare system users...

Nairobi’s Eastlands commuters using MY1963 cash-light card fare system are set to enjoy free rides as a reward from the matatu owners. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Mandera terror suspect flown to N...

A man alleged to be behind the killings in Mandera late last year that saw over 60 people murdered has been flown to Nairobi after arrest, police have announced. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Government bans 14 faulty speed g...

The government has banned 14 sets of what is describes as faulty speed governors that have caused accidents on the country's roads. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Kenya's ICC charade hurting Ruto'...

Is the plot by the government to ensure the African continent withdraws from the ICC of any help to DP William Ruto, who is currently still embroiled in his crimes against humanity case? Read more...

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
4 ways to sex your man to satisfa...

Here are a few ways to ensure your man loves it tonight. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
ICC funding terrorism in Kenya, s...

The International Criminal Court ICC has a personal vendetta against Kenya, the government has claimed. Read more...