French special forces battle rebels in central Mali
PARIS - France 24
Handout photo released on January 16, 2013 by French army showing French armored vehicles making their way north of Bamako, in Mali. ABACA photo
French special forces clashed with Islamist rebels in a central Malian town just 400 kilometres north of the Malian capital of Bamako on Wednesday at the start of a major ground offensive in the West African nation amid mounting fears that jihadist fighters were merging into civilian populations.
Wednesday’s ground fighting came on the sixth day of the French military intervention in Mali and centred around the town of Diabaly, which had turned into a rebel stronghold in recent days.
Reporting from Bamako, FRANCE 24’s Catherine Norris Trent said French
special forces had been engaging in combat with Islamist fighters
inside the town.
“From what we understand, Islamist fighters there have been hiding in some of the houses alongside villagers,” said Norris Trent. “So it’s more difficult for the French forces to target them without resulting in civilian casualties.”
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