French Continue Fighting Militants in Northern Mali

Yahoo Contributor Network

The fight over northern Mali hasn't ended with the capture of the region's major cities. As Reuters reported on Monday, French warplanes were bombing the camps of religious extremists who'd fled into the north. Additionally, two extremist leaders were captured by Tuareg rebels near the Algerian border, according to another Reuters report.

Here's a closer look at news related to the conflict in Mali.

* French forces captured Timbuktu and Gao last week, but 600 troops will be repositioning forces out of Timbuktu in the next week towards Gao on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

* Malian forces have arrived to begin patrolling the city and providing security for when the French leave.

* Tuareg separatists in the MNLA group say they have captured Mohamed Moussa Ag Mohamed and Oumeini Ould Baba Akhmed, senior leaders who fled their city conquests. Mohamed was charged with imposing the harshest punishments of shariah law in Timbuktu, while Akhmed is said to have been responsible for the kidnapping of a French hostage by an al-Qaida-affiliated group.

* The MNLA say they took control of the third main northern Mali city, Kidal, last week and sent the two prisoners there. However, a Reuters reporter witnessed Chadian troops and French special forces in the town, where the French control the airport.

* The Tuareg say they are helping the French forces and say they will negotiate with the government for peace.

* Reuters indicated that the rebels were beginning to fight a guerrilla-style conflict in the remote areas bordering Algeria by planting land mines. Four Malian soldiers and two civilians were killed in the north recently.

* On Saturday, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova and French President François Hollande met to discuss the need to rebuild and restore the damage done to Timbuktu by rebel extremist forces. According to the U.N. News Center, Bokova said, "at this moment, we must act quickly to safeguard and rebuild this country's outstanding cultural heritage -- this is essential for national unity and reconciliation."

* Bokova is going to meet with officials in Bamako, the capital of Mali, to discuss the assistance program for securing Timbuktu's culture. A team of experts were sent earlier last week to assess the damage done.

Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.

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