Bomb blasts, street battles in Mali city following French declaration of success

1bf6malian soldiers 10 northern Bomb blasts, street battles in Mali city following French declaration of success

Bomb blasts, street battles in Mali city following French declaration of successGet short URLLink copied to clipboardemail story to a friendprint versionPublished: 11 February, 2013, 13:12

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Malian soldiers stand guard on February 10, 2013 in the Malian northern city of Gao (AFP Photo / Pascal Guyot) Blasts and street violence continue in Mali’s largest northern city after Islamist insurgent guerilla raids. French jets have bombed Gao in response, according to AFP. The violence throws into question claims of stability after the city’s recapture.Islamist troops used canoes to cross the Niger River in their armed offensive on the Malian army, a French general told Reuters. The extremists, who were headed towards the police station wielding AK-47s, were con
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fronted by Malian soldiers wielding rocket-propelled grenades.The ensuing gunfire prompted residents to take cover in their homes and crouch behind walls, and French military helicopters scattered bullets on the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) extremists from above. MUJWA is considered a faction of Al-Qaeda’s North African wing AQIM, which the French have been fighting against after the Islamist group seized control of northern Mali for 10 months, following the military coup of March 2012/Fighting also broke out around the governor’s office, and machine-gun fire could be heard late into the afternoon. A precise death toll has not yet been established. However, both Reuters and AFP witnesses report two bodies, both of which may have been civilians. This recent eruption of fighting has illustrated the insurgents’ enduring strength in the face of early successful French offensives. Despite a fairly easy fight on the ground, the French strongholds still remain highly vulnerable to insurgency and terrorist attacks. “Despite the news reports of the French army having taken over Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, there is still a long way to go before Jihadists are ousted from the country,” journalist Gonzalo Wancha , told RT after being given exclusive access to civil defense camps.One soldier spoke on behalf of his fellow civilian volunteers, stating clearly that they did not support the methods of the French and Malian forces, despite sharing goals. “What they did was a really bad service to us,” he said, “Al-Qaeda has been operating on Malian territory for a number of years now. They have arms, and they keep getting more by kidnapping white people for ransom. France pays them to have its citizens returned, and then the terrorists have cash to buy weapons….there’s no way the army can fight it.”“One thing all these paramilitary groups have in common is their patriotism and zeal to protect their country, and drive away the narco-terrorists.  But this is a losing fight, given the financial resources and ammunition stock they have,” Wancha said.The Islamist extremists had fled into the remote surrounding desert two weeks ago, following a French-led military mission which forced them to flee from their northern Mali city strongholds. Insurgents have also been successful in blending in with the general population through the removal of insignia which might identify them to adversaries. “I believe France will stop these attacks for a while, but when the French troops leave, they’ll start all over again, because the criminals are still out there, hiding among the civilians – not all of them have been caught,” another civil defense soldier said. The undercover MUJWA strike follows separate terrorist incidents over the weekend. Earlier on Sunday, a suicide blast in Gao killed the bomber and injured a Malian soldier, whilst on Saturday night, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a Gao checkpoint, injuring another Malian solider. The blast on Monday morning was ‘possibly’ at the same checkpoint, according to AFP. The security post in question was also attacked on Friday by a 15-year-old boy, injuring one other in what was the first terrorist attack in the country’s history. MUJWA claimed responsibility for the incident. On February 2, President Hollande visited Timbuktu as the Mali intervention was declared successful. He was presented with a baby camel by the government of Mali as a token of thanks.  However, the recent blasts may signify the possibility of a longer and more drawn-out insurgency than previously anticipated. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told France on Sunday that it was reaping in Mali what it had sown in Libya, by arming rebels who fought against Muammar Gaddafi.”);
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A large explosi
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on hit Gao early on Monday morning, near a city checkpoint which has been the subject of two previous attacks over the past three days, reported AFP. A French airstrike followed the blast, said the agency, citing witnesses at the scene. Broad-scale guerilla assault began on Sunday, less than 10 days after French President Francois Hollande flew out to Mali to declare the apparent success of the campaign.Bomb blasts and street violence continue in Mali’s largest northern city after Islamist insurgents’ guerilla raids. The surprise attacks follow the recapture of the town by French forces and throw into question claims of apparent stability. A large explosion hit Gao early on Monday morning near a city checkpoint which has been the subject of two previous attacks over the past three days, reported AFP. The broad-scale guerilla assault began on Sunday, less than 10 days after French President Francois Hollande flew out to Mali to declare the mission a success. Malian soldiers stand guard on February 10, 2013 in the Malian northern city of Gao (AFP Photo / Pascal Guyot) Islamist troops used canoes to cross the Niger River in their armed offensive on the Malian army, a French general told Reuters. The extremists, who were headed towards the police station wielding AK-47s, were confronted by Malian soldiers wielding rocket-propelled grenades.The ensuing gunfire prompted residents to take cover in their homes and crouch behind walls, and French military helicopters scattered bullets on the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) extremists from above. MUJWA is considered a faction of Al-Qaeda’s North African wing AQIM, which the French have been fighting against after the Islamist group seized control of northern Mali for 10 months, following the military coup of March 2012/Fighting also broke out around the governor’s office, and machine-gun fire could be heard late into the afternoon. A precise death toll has not yet been established. However, both Reuters and AFP witnesses report two bodies, both of which may have been civilians. This recent eruption of fighting has illustrated the insurgents’ enduring strength in the face of early successful French offensives. Despite a fairly easy fight on the ground, the French strongholds still remain highly vulnerable to insurgency and terrorist attacks. “Despite the news reports of the French army having taken over Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, there is still a long way to go before Jihadists are ousted from the country,” journalist Gonzalo Wancha , told RT after being given exclusive access to civil defense camps.One soldier spoke on behalf of his fellow civilian volunteers, stating clearly that they did not support the methods of the French and Malian forces, despite sharing goals. “What they did was a really bad service to us,” he said, “Al-Qaeda has been operating on Malian territory for a number of years now. They have arms, and they keep getting more by kidnapping white people for ransom. France pays them to have its citizens returned, and then the terrorists have cash to buy weapons….there’s no way the army can fight it.”“One thing all these paramilitary groups have in common is their patriotism and zeal to protect their country, and drive away the narco-terrorists.  But this is a losing fight, given the financial resources and ammunition stock they have,” Wancha said.The Islamist extremists had fled into the remote surrounding desert two weeks ago, following a French-led military mission which forced them to flee from their northern Mali city stro
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ngholds. Insurgents have also been successful in blending in with the general population through the removal of insignia which might identify them to adversaries. “I believe France will stop these attacks for a while, but when the French troops leave, they’ll start all over again, because the criminals are still out there, hiding among the civilians – not all of them have been caught,” another civil defense soldier said. The undercover MUJWA strike follows separate terrorist incidents over the weekend. Earlier on Sunday, a suicide blast in Gao killed the bomber and injured a Malian soldier, whilst on Saturday night, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a Gao checkpoint, injuring another Malian solider. The blast on Monday morning was ‘possibly’ at the same checkpoint, according to AFP. The security post in question was also attacked on Friday by a 15-year-old boy, injuring one other in what was the first terrorist attack in the country’s history. MUJWA claimed responsibility for the incident. On February 2, President Hollande visited Timbuktu as the Mali intervention was declared successful. He was presented with a baby camel by the government of Mali as a token of thanks.  However, the recent blasts may signify the possibility of a longer and more drawn-out insurgency than previously anticipated. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told France on Sunday that it was reaping in Mali what it had sown in Libya, by arming rebels who fought against Muammar Gaddafi.

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Bomb blasts, street battles in Mali city following French declaration of success

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