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
Victor Tinto
Man forced to 'excrete' drugs aft...

A man was forced to excrete drug pellets he had swallowed after being nabbed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Governors defiant as they launch ...

Governors have launched their referendum signature collection process, with defiant messages in the face of increased opposition to the process. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Kimaiyo will not take blame for W...

Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo will not take blame for purported failures during the Westgate Mall security operation. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
A year of failed promises for Wes...

The Westgate Mall attack took place a year ago today and there are many, victims and families aside that have nothing to reflect on during the first anniversary. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Westgate survivor vows to return ...

Jimmy Waweru will return to Westgate mall once repairs are complete, saying he owes a visit to those who died and were injured during the ill fated attack. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Lamu curfew a 'success', as Kimai...

The curfew executed in Lamu is a success, according to locals, with Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo extending the order for another month. Read more...