Malian and French troops ready for an offensive against the town of Gao in the next few days 2601131

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French Armed Forces Operation Serval in Mali

 
 
Saturday, January 26, 2013, 10:21 AM
 
Malian and French troops ready for an offensive against the town of Gao in the next few days.
Malian officials said government forces have recaptured Hombori, about 160 km southwest of Gao, on Friday, January 25, 2013, and add, an offensive against Gao could take place in the next few days. On Friday, January 25, 2013, Islamist extremists based in the Malian town of Ansongo destroyed a bridge near the Niger border, officials said, marking the first use of explosives by the insurgents since the start of a French-led military intervention two weeks ago.
     
French and Malian troops have captured the town of Hombori in northern Mali, another way station en route to the rebel stronghold of Gao. On Friday, January 25, 2013, Islamist extremists based in the Malian town of Ansongo destroyed a bridge near the Niger border, officials said on Friday, marking the first use of explosives by the insurgents since the start of a French-led military intervention two weeks ago.
The French troops based in Sévaré continue to support the Malian army with the help of ERC 90 Sagaie armoured vehicles, and strengthens their positions to prevent any offensive action of the Islamist rebels to the south of the country.
     

Djibril Diallo, the village chief of Fafa, 12 miles from the bridge, said by phone Friday that residents had called him to confirm that members of the Movement for the Oneness and Jihad in West Africa had traveled toward Niger to the outskirts of Tassiga on Thursday, before destroying the bridge crossing into the town. The rebel group, also known as MUJAO, traveled from Ansongo, roughly 25 miles from Tassiga.

This action led by the Islamist rebels aims to stop the advance of Chadian troops, stationed in neighboring Niger, who are expected to travel by road into Mali past Tassiga in order to retake the strategic town of Gao.

Meanwhile, more than 2,000 Chadian soldiers have arrived in Niger, joining 500 soldiers from the country's army, to tackle the rebels by opening a second front against them.

The African Union is seeking to bolster the strength of the African-led force in Mali, or AFISMA, and has given member states one week to commit troops to the mission, officials said on Friday, January 25, 2013.

The United Nations has authorised the deployment of a 3 300-strong force under the auspices of West African bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States). But the involvement of Chad, which has committed up to 2 000 troops and is not an Ecowas member, means the force could now be much bigger.

South of Mopti, a Reuters reporter saw a large column of French armoured vehicles and supply trucks rolling northeast along the main road in the direction of Gao.

The French troops based in Sévaré continue to support the Malian army with the help of ERC 90 Sagaie armoured vehicles, and strengthens their positions to prevent any offensive action of the Islamist rebels to the south of the country.

French Rafale fighter aircraft and Gazelle attack helicopters have been harrying the rebel fighters with air strikes on their vehicles, bases and stores.

The rebels have abandoned caches of munitions, including one, at Diabaly in central Mali, found to contain rockets for a Soviet-made BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher, witnesses said.

France has 2,500 soldiers on the ground in Mali as part of its Operation Serval (Wildcat), while a total of 3,700 French armed forces members are involved in the whole operation, according to the French Defence Ministry.

     
More than 2,000 Chadian soldiers have arrived in Niger, joining 500 soldiers from the country's army, to tackle the rebels by opening a second front against them.
More than 2,000 Chadian soldiers have arrived in Niger, joining 500 soldiers from the country's army, to tackle the rebels by opening a second front against them.
     
 

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