French forces, militants clash in central Mali

French forces, militants clash in central Mali
# 17 January 2013 02:24 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Malian and French forces have attacked militants near the central town of Konna, which was captured last week by the rebels controlling the northern parts of the West African country, APA reports quoting Press TV.

"Fighting is underway not far from Konna between” the militants and the Malian Army, with support from the French Army, said a Malian security source on condition of anonymity on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, French Army Chief of Staff Admiral Edouard Guillaud said that French infantry units "will be fighting directly in coming hours… whether it is in one hour or in 72 hours."

The militants occupied Konna, about 700 kilometers (400 miles) by road from the capital Bamako, prompting France to intervene.

On January 11, France intervened in Mali by launching an air offensive under the pretext of halting the advance of the militants.

On Tuesday, France announced that it would more than triple the number of soldiers in Mali from 800 to 2,500.

Chaos broke out in Mali after President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government's inability to contain the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country, which had been going on for two months.

However, in the wake of the coup d’état, the Tuareg rebels took control of the entire northern desert region, but the Ansar Dine extremists then pushed them aside and took control of the region, which is larger than France or Texas.

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