A photo released on Jan. 12, 2013 by French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) shows French Mirage 2000 D aircrafts flying over Mali overnight January 11 to 12, after taking off from the French military base of N'Djamena in Chad. French President Francois Hollande announce that French forces have launched military intervention on Friday in a support of Malian troops countering Islamist rebels' offensive. (Xinhua/NICOLAS-NELSON RICHARD/ECPAD)
PARIS, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- French President Francois Hollande on Saturday stressed that French forces will pursue their mission in Mali to prepare ground for African troops deployment to preserve Malian sovereignty.
"Thanks to the courage of our soldiers, we have already held back the advance of our adversaries and inflicted heavy losses on them. But our mission is not over yet," the president said.
"In the coming days, our country will continue its intervention in Mali. I said it will remain the necessary time but I have confidence in the effectiveness of our forces and the mission's success that we accomplish on behalf of the international community," he added.
In a brief speech after heading a war cabinet meeting, Hollande said he had given instructions that deployed French forces must keep their actions strictly limited to supporting a West African operation in Mali.
"France, in this operation, does not pursue any interest other than saving a friendly country," Hollande noted.
Islamists insurgents warned France to risk the safety of its citizens "wherever they find themselves in the Muslim world" after supporting military intervention in the torn-conflict African country.
According to earlier reports, one French hostage was believed killed in Somalia on Saturday and eight others were still in hands of al-Qaeda-linked cells.
Meanwhile in the second day of fighting in Mali, one French pilot has been killed after his helicopter was shot down near the central Mali town of Mopti, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a press conference.
France had sent special forces into Mopti to prepare the ground and later sent "several hundred" troops into Bamako on Friday to protect the capital from "terrorists", with additional Rafale fighter jets on standby will be deployed, according to the minister.
A second defence meeting was scheduled at 3:00 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) Sunday at the Elysee Palace to discuss the recent developments of French-backed military intervention in Mali and the situation in Somalia, where a French hostage was reportedly killed in a rescue operation.
PARIS, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- French President Francois Hollande announced Saturday to reinforce the country's anti-terror alert to the highest level following Paris' military commitment to help Malian authorities stop Islamist rebels' offensive.
"The fight against terrorism requires to take all precautions measure here in France. I asked ... to reinforce the vigipirate plan to conduct for monitoring our public buildings and our transport infrastructure," Hollande said after heading a special meeting of the defence council. Full story
BAMAKO, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- As French troops have started fighting rebel forces in northern Mali, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has authorized the deployment of an African-led international force to flush out rebel groups from northern Mali, a statement by the regional bloc said on Saturday.
The statement quoted Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State, President of Cote d'Ivoir Alassane Ouattara, as saying that measures would be taken to implement the decision to assist the Malian Army to defend the nation's territorial integrity. Full story
BAMAKO, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- More than 100 people, including rebels and government troops, have been killed when the two sides were wrestling control of the strategic Malian town of Konna, said a Malian military source on Saturday.
The source said "more than 100 rebels" have been killed during the fighting. Full story