Mali: Fighting Starts, Army Fires on Islamists

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by Options12, Jan 7, 2013.

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    Malian soldiers have fired on Islamist fighters in the centre of the country, military sources say.

    It the first significant fighting reported between the two sides since Islamist and Tuareg rebels seized control of the north of the country last April.

    The Islamists had reportedly tried to make an advance into the government-controlled south.

    It is not clear whether there were any casualties.

    The army used artillery against the Islamist fighters in the village of Gnimignama, 30km (19 miles) from army positions, according to army sources.
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    Rebel fighters in Mali have captured at least 12 government soldiers along with their vehicle and equipment, reports say.

    The incident on Monday took place during a government patrol outside the town of Kona and near the city of Mopti, as fears rise that the rebels, who seized vast swathes of Mali's north, are moving increasingly closer to areas under government control.

    Earlier on Monday,_government soldiers fired on the al-Qaeda linked group,_Ansar Dine,_60km east of Mopti.
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    A Konna resident told the BBC that the two sides had been involved in a heavy exchange of fire.

    Mujao and another Islamist group, Ansar Dine, have controlled most of northern Mali since last April.

    They formed an alliance with Tuareg rebels, over-running government forces in the northern regions of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao.

    But their alliance quickly collapsed, with the Islamists capturing the region's main urban centres and marginalising the Tuareg rebels.

    The Islamists have been accused of war crimes and attempting to impose a strict version of Sharia, prompting fears the region could become a regional hub for al-Qaeda-linked militancy.
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    "European military, including French, are present in Mali to repel any southward advance by the Islamists," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    With the situation on the ground developing rapidly, France advised all its expatriates not involved in essential services to leave Mali immediately.

    French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was in contact with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and was due to talk to his British and German counterparts later in the day.