Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

Read more

  • US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv over Israel-Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • France gives go-ahead to pro-Palestinian Paris rally

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

  • Five children among seven killed in minibus crash in eastern France

    Read more

  • Hollande says French warship delivery will ‘depend on Russia’s attitude’

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels release bodies, black boxes from flight MH17

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

  • An ‘explosion of violence’: French press reacts to Gaza protests

    Read more

  • Christians in Iraq's Mosul face execution or exodus

    Read more

  • Scores killed as Libyan militias fight over airport

    Read more

  • Ukraine football players refuse to return home after friendly in France

    Read more

Africa

Suspected Islamists in Mali blow up bridge near Gao

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-10-08

Suspected Islamist militants in Mali launched an offensive near the northern city of Gao on Tuesday, wounding two people when they blasted a bridge.

Islamic extremists have taken the offensive around Gao in north Mali, wounding two civilians Tuesday when they blew up a bridge, a day after shelling the town and injuring a soldier.

"Early this Tuesday, Islamists dynamited one of two small bridges near ... Bentia, about 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the border with Niger, leaving two civilians wounded," said Ibrahim Cisse, a local councillor for the Gao region.

Cisse said that the assailants "wearing turbans" arrived by motorbike at the bridge that crosses the Niger River at Bentia, then destroyed it.

"In this place... there are two small bridges. The aim of the Islamists was to blow up both bridges, but fortunately only the old one was badly damaged," a police source in Gao said.

"The new bridge, which is the most frequently used, sustained only very slight damage," the source added.

Malian soldiers were sent to the spot, along with French troops deployed in the desert north of the vast country, "to avoid other acts of sabotage" by armed extremists, the police source said.

Islamist groups linked to Al-Qaeda were driven out of Gao, the largest town in the north, along with Kidal and Timbuktu, after they occupied all three in the wake of a coup in Bamako last year.

France keeps 3,000 troops in its former colony out of a contingent it despatched last January to help end the Islamist occupation, but Paris plans to draw down the force to 1,000 men by the end of the year.

The bridges at Bentia were attacked a day after armed Islamists fired shells on Gao itself, wounding a Malian soldier, and come 10 days after a suicide attack in Timbuktu killed two civilians and four bombers, as well as wounding seven Malian soldiers.

A spokesman for an Al-Qaeda splinter group, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), on Tuesday claimed responsibility for both the Gao attacks and warned of further operations, in a message to AFP.

"In the name of all mujahedeen, we claim the attacks against the evil-doers in Gao and the attack on the bridge (that served) to transport the enemies of Islam into the land of Islam," Abou Walid Sahraoui said, warning that "attacks on the enemies of Islam will continue".

Responsibility for the Timbuktu attack was claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which was founded in Algeria and operates across the Sahel region south of the Sahara.

On Monday night, Mali's Defence Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga denounced the Gao shelling by "presumed terrorists" and said that "three of the four devices" fired had exploded.

Maiga said he wanted to "reassure the population that in coordination with our partners in Serval (the French operation) and MINUSMA (the UN's African military force in Mali), our deployment has been strengthened".

He urged the population "to remain calm and above all to share information with personnel of the armed forces and security forces in order to help them track down the enemy in all its forms".

Last year Mali was upended by a military coup that toppled the elected president and was followed by a Tuareg separatist insurgency.

Islamist fighters then took the upper hand in northern towns and imposed strict Sharia law, marked by numerous violations of human rights, until they were ousted.

French and African military support for Mali's army drove the Islamists into desert hideouts, notably the Ifhogas mountains in the northeast, from which they still operate.

(AFP)

Date created : 2013-10-08

  • MALI

    Al Qaeda ‘terror blueprint’ for North Mali revealed

    Read more

  • MALI

    Islamists fire shells at Gao in northern Mali

    Read more

  • MALI

    Clashes in north Mali spark fears of mounting violence

    Read more

COMMENT(S)