Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

ENCORE!

From Paris's Liberation to 'arresting' art in Avignon

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Ferguson riots: Pressure mounts on Obama

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'The pen is mightier than the sword'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Requiem for a recorder'

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government?

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • Israeli air strike kills three top Hamas commanders

    Read more

  • US forces tried to rescue slain reporter from IS captors

    Read more

  • Former Femen activist detained after fighting veiled woman

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • Former Irish PM Albert Reynolds dies at 81

    Read more

  • Tensions high in Yemen as Shiite rebel deadline looms

    Read more

  • Thailand coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha voted prime minister

    Read more

  • Deadly street battles hit Ukrainian rebel stronghold

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Brazil’s Silva launches bid after Campos plane crash death

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • Netanyahu compares Hamas to IS, Gaza offensive to continue

    Read more

  • France’s ex-PM Juppé sets up presidential clash with Sarkozy

    Read more

  • US attorney general visits Missouri town after fatal shooting

    Read more

Africa

Chadian troops redeploy to Tuareg stronghold of Kidal

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-04-05

The battle against Islamists in the Ifoghas Mountains is over and Chadian troops are now being redeployed to the northern Malian town of Kidal, where Tuareg hopes for independence remain strong.

To reach the Chadian forces stationed in northern Mali, there is only one choice.

To move its troops, Chad uses a Soviet-era Antonov cargo plane, piloted by a Serbian crew that works around the clock. “When the commander asks us to fly, we fly,” says Sergueï, the plane’s navigator.

The town of Kidal is still not totally secure. It remains in the hands of the Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, or MNLA, which is now a fragile ally of France.

The MNLA took control of Kidal, 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) northeast of the capital Bamako, on March 30 last year as part of the Tuareg drive for the independence of northern Mali, a region known to them as Azawad.

And as the convoy makes it way through the town, the children shout, “Long live Azawad” -- a sign that the desire for independence remains strong.

“As far as Chadian forces are concerned, we have been warmly welcomed here,” Oumar Bikimo, the commander of Chadian forces in Mali, tells FRANCE 24. “Warmly welcomed, but not as warmly as our troops elsewhere in Mali ... some in Kidal view them more as occupiers than liberators.”

Double-cross

Fighting alongside their Islamist allies, the Tuaregs took Gao and the historic desert town of Timbuktu in the weeks following their takeover of Kidal. But the Islamists soon seized full control of the territories, undermining Tuareg hopes of independence.

French forces, now backed by African troops, launched operations to oust the Islamists on January 11. Kidal serves as a base for the French and Chadian troops that were fighting the remaining militants in the Ifoghas mountain range.

The MNLA has said it would oppose any move into Kidal by the Malian army, which the UN has accused of committing rights abuses against Mali’s Tuareg and Arab communities in its bid to rout the Islamists.

France, which has 4,000 troops in Mali, is eager to withdraw and transfer responsibility to a pan-African force, which would then give way to a UN peacekeeping mission.

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon has said that up to 11,200 peacekeepers might be needed for the mission, which would be backed by a military force to battle any remaining Islamist fighters.
 

 

Date created : 2013-04-05

  • MALI - EU

    Mali soldiers get their own EU military academy

    Read more

  • MALI

    Zeid or Belmokhtar? Chad army's photo sparks debate

    Read more

  • MALI-INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

    Helping Malian rape victims break the silence

    Read more

COMMENT(S)