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NEWS
January 26, 2013 | By Rukmini Callimachi and Baba Ahmed, Associated Press
SEVARE, Mali - Islamic extremists based in the Malian town of Ansongo have destroyed a bridge near the Niger border, officials said Friday, marking the first use of explosives by the insurgents since the start two weeks ago of a French-led military intervention. The explosion shows that the extremists remain a nimble and daunting enemy, despite gains by the French, who have recaptured three towns from the insurgents and pushed Friday toward the Islamist stronghold of Gao, one of three provincial capitals controlled by the al-Qaeda-linked rebels.
NEWS
January 24, 2013 | By Baba Ahmed and Krista Larson, Associated Press
DJENNE, Mali - Malian soldiers killed people accused of ties to radical Islamists at a bus stop around the time the French-led military intervention began, a witness told the Associated Press on Wednesday, detailing how the soldiers shot the victims and then threw their bodies into nearby wells. The account from the witness, who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals, came the same day that a French human-rights group accused Malian forces of dozens of "summary executions" and other abuses as they confronted Islamic extremists.
NEWS
January 23, 2013 | By Krista Larson and Baba Ahmed, Associated Press
SEGOU, Mali - American planes transported French troops and equipment to Mali, a U.S. military spokesman said Tuesday, as Malian and French forces pushed into the Islamist-held north. The town of Douentza had been held by Islamist rebels for four months, 120 miles northeast of Mopti, the previous line-of-control held by the Malian military in Mali's narrow central belt. The Islamist fighters have controlled the vast desert stretches of northern Mali, with the weak government clinging to the south, since a military coup in the capital in March unleashed chaos.
NEWS
January 21, 2013 | By Krista Larsona and Baba Ahmed, Associated Press
BAMAKO, Mali - Backed by French air strikes, Malian forces appeared close to recapturing a key central town in Mali where bands of al-Qaeda-linked fighters had holed up, France's defense minister said Sunday. The French military has spent the last nine days helping the West African nation of Mali quash a jihadist rebellion in its vast northern desert. The comments Sunday from Jean-Yves Le Drian, however, appeared to cast some doubt on local military claims that the town of Diabaly had already been recaptured from the Islamists.
NEWS
January 20, 2013 | By Baba Ahmed, Associated Press
BAMAKO, Mali - Radical Islamists have fled a key Malian town because of French air strikes that began after they seized Diabaly nearly one week ago, the Malian military and fleeing residents said late Saturday. A Malian military spokesman, Capt. Modibo Traore, said Saturday soldiers had secured the town. The departure of the Islamists from Diabaly marks a success for the French-led military intervention that began Jan. 11 to oust the Islamists from northern and central Mali. Last week, the Malian military was able to retake another key town, Konna, whose capture had sparked the French intervention.
NEWS
January 19, 2013
Timbuktu, for most Americans, has been one of those exotic names one might hear in an old movie, or see on the pages of some night-stand novel conjuring dreamy images of a faraway, mystical place. But Timbuktu is real, and so is the war in which that region of the West African nation of Mali is embroiled. It is a conflict rooted in the war on terror in which the United States, appropriately, is taking a lesser role - having quit Iraq, and likely accelerating its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
NEWS
January 18, 2013 | By Aomar Ouali and Paul Schemm, Associated Press
Breaking News update: ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) - Algerian official: 20 foreign hostages, including Americans, escape from their captors. More to come; the original story is below:   ALGIERS, Algeria - As Algerian army helicopters clattered overhead deep in the desert, Islamist extremists hunkered down for the night in a natural gas complex they had assaulted Wednesday morning, killing two people and taking dozens of foreigners hostage in...
NEWS
January 17, 2013 | By Rukmini Callimachi and Baba Ahmed, Associated Press
BAMAKO, Mali - After a punishing bombing campaign failed to halt the advance of al-Qaeda-linked fighters, France pledged Tuesday to triple the size of its force in Mali, sending in hundreds more troops as it prepared for a land assault to dislodge the militants occupying the northern half of the country. The move reversed France's earlier insistence on providing only aerial and logistical support for a military intervention led by African ground troops. France plunged headfirst into the conflict in its former colony last week, bombarding the insurgents' training camps, arms depots and safe houses in an effort to shatter the Islamist domination of a region many fear could become a launching pad for terrorist attacks on the West and a magnet for extremists from around the world.
NEWS
January 15, 2013 | By Rukmini Callimachi and Baba Ahmed, Associated Press
BAMAKO, Mali - Despite a punishing bombardment by French warplanes, al-Qaeda-linked insurgents grabbed more territory in Mali on Monday, seizing a strategic military camp that brought them far closer to the government's seat of power. Declaring France had "opened the gates of hell" with its assault, the rebels threatened retribution. "France . . . has fallen into a trap much more dangerous than Iraq, Afghanistan, or Somalia," said Omar Ould Hamaha, a leader of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, one of the rebel groups controlling the north, speaking on Europe 1 radio.
NEWS
January 12, 2013 | By Baba Ahmed and Sylvie Corbet, Associated Press
BAMAKO, Mali - France launched air strikes Friday to help the government of Mali defeat al-Qaeda-linked militants who captured more ground this week, dramatically raising the stakes in the battle for this vast desert nation. French President Francois Hollande said the "terrorist groups, drug traffickers, and extremists" in northern Mali "show a brutality that threatens us all. " He vowed that the operation would last "as long as necessary. " France said it was taking the action in Mali at the request of President Dioncounda Traore, who declared a state of emergency because of the militants' advance.
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