Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Mali: Jihadist group announces death of french hostage

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Tutu cautions ANC: South African peace laureate criticizes ruling party

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Clamping down on jihad propaganda online

Read more

DEBATE

Homegrown Jihadists: France Sets Out Plan to Monitor Web and Support Families (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Homegrown Jihadists: France Sets Out Plan to Monitor Web and Support Families

Read more

WEB NEWS

Ukrainians turn Russian 'evidence' into meme

Read more

FOCUS

Copenhagen seeks to decriminalise use of cannabis

Read more

FACE-OFF

French president's advisor resigns: A new blow for François Hollande

Read more

ENCORE!

Films as plays, plays as films and TV at the cinema

Read more

  • US would defend Japan in islands dispute, Obama says

    Read more

  • Afghan guard kills foreigners in Kabul hospital attack

    Read more

  • Video: Mayor in east Ukraine ready ‘to turn Slaviansk into battlefield’

    Read more

  • New far-right mayor moves to quash Paris region mosque

    Read more

  • US soldiers arrive in Poland as Ukraine crisis continues

    Read more

  • Fatah, Hamas agree to form Palestinian unity government

    Read more

  • Millions of Syrians desperately need aid, says UN

    Read more

  • Muslims in CAR pray for an escape route

    Read more

  • Madrid beat Bayern 1-0 in first leg of Champions League semis

    Read more

  • Britain's ex-PM Blair warns against spread of radical Islam

    Read more

  • Turkish PM offers condolences to descendants of Armenians killed in 1915

    Read more

  • Gay marriage, one year on: ‘French civilisation did not crumble’

    Read more

  • Colombian president reinstates firebrand Bogota mayor

    Read more

  • NYPD public relations campaign on Twitter goes awry

    Read more

  • In pictures: Violent protests erupt in Rio

    Read more

  • French hostage Gilberto Rodrigues Leal has died, Islamists say

    Read more

  • 'Pope-mania' hits John Paul II's Polish hometown

    Read more

  • French actress Catherine Deneuve to sell €4 million château

    Read more

  • Chelsea, Atletico draw 0-0 in first leg of Champions League semis

    Read more

Africa

French and Malian forces encircle Timbuktu

©

Text by Matthieu Mabin

Latest update : 2013-01-28

French and Malian forces are preparing an offensive on the symbolic city of Timbuktu, captured by Islamist militants last year. FRANCE 24 special correspondent Matthieu Mabin reports from the outskirts of the ancient town.

After recapturing the city of Gao on Saturday, French and Malian forced have switched their focus to Timbuktu. Early on Sunday morning, masses of heavily-armored troops arrived at the outskirts of the city, stationing themselves some 100 kilometres away from the city centre.

The French air force has laid the groundwork for an all-out offensive, using Dassault Mirage 2000s and Rafale fighter jets to destroy rebel points in the vast desert around the city. So far, the troops have experienced no form of counter-attack on the ground.

Matthieu Mabin, FRANCE 24 special correspondent, is embedded with the French army in Mali.

Attacking Timbuktu is a symbolic operation for Mali – overrun by Ansar Dine jihadist militants almost a year ago, the ancient city has been ravaged by its captors: its mausoleums destroyed, its people forced to obey Sharia law. The rare accounts we’ve heard depict scenes of social desecration.

Liberated villagers ‘hysterical’

When we travel through liberated villages, the residents become almost hysterical at the sight of the French and Malian tanks. They rush out of their homes with the national flag shouting “Mali!” These people are literally being liberated after experiencing the terror of Sharia law. The accounts we’ve heard are terrible: suspected thieves having their hands cut off; women forced to wear the veil; men banned from wearing long trousers.

Residents tell us that the rebels flee very quickly [when the French and Malian forces arrive], leaving behind weapons and vehicles. They dress like civilians so as not to stand out and then try to head for the border with Mauritania.

 

Date created : 2013-01-27

  • MALI

    French, Malian forces push north as US extends support

    Read more

  • MALI

    French-led forces in Mali retake Gao

    Read more

  • MALI

    Mali rebel group splits, one faction ready for talks

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)