BAMAKO, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Malian army and French forces have driven the Islamic extremist rebels further to the north by taking over the town of Hombori along the way to the rebels' stronghold of the city of Gao on the night between Wednesday and Thursday, security sources said Friday.
Hombori is located around 200 kilometers from Gao, one of the three main cities held by the rebels since last April, taking advantage of the chaotic aftermath of a military coup in the West African nation.
The Malian forces, backed by French troops, have retaken several towns in the central to northern region of the country from the rebels in the last week or so.
Meanwhile, the rebel fighters, backed by al-Quida, have continued their fierce resistance. It was reported that they have destroyed a strategic bridge, the Tassiga bridge, near the Niger border on the road to Gao, preventing forces from coming from Niger or going to Gao.
The town of Tassiga is about 60 kilometers to the Niger border. It is a bridge that the 2,000 Chadian soldiers and the 500 Nigerien troops planned to come through to the Mali battles in reenforcing a regional coalition force.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is expected to send a contingent of 3,300 troops to its member state Mali. Other member states that pledged to dispatch troops to Mali include Nigeria, 900 soldiers, Togo and Senegal, 500 soldiers each, as well as Benin 300.
BAMAKO, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The alliance of Islamist militant groups showed signs of cracks Thursday as they were under increasing pressure exerted by a new spate of the French-led offensives.
The Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA), a faction of the al-Qaida-linked Islamist rebels occupying the north of Mali, announced it has split off from the Ansar Dine group and pledged to negotiate "a peaceful solution" to the country's crisis and possibly even fight against its former comrades in arms. Full story
BAMAKO, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Malian government, through a statement published on Thursday, urged the country's security forces to strictly respect human rights and all other provisions of the international humanitarian law as well as international conventions in that regard.
"For several days, we have been receiving information about the human rights violations committed on the ground by the armed forces," the statement noted. Full story
OTTAWA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Canada announced Thursday to extend its support for the French military mission in Mali from one week to one month.
A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) transport plane, the CC-177 Globemaster III, which began to delivery equipment and personnel from France to the Malian capital of Bamako on Jan. 16, will continue the operation until Feb. 15. Full story