Mali troops in fresh clashes with Islamists
- Published: 17/01/2013 at 04:45 PM
- Online news:
Fresh clashes have erupted between the Malian army, backed by French troops, and Islamist insurgents encircling the central town of Konna, military sources said Thursday.
A picture taken with a mobile phone is said to show Islamist insurgents in Gao. Fresh clashes have erupted between the Malian army, backed by French troops, and Islamist insurgents encircling the central town of Konna, military sources said Thursday.
Fighting broke out on Wednesday afternoon near the town, whose capture by Islamist rebels last week prompted France to intervene in a bid to drive back the insurgents who have controlled northern Mali since April 2012.
"We had a second battle with the Islamists some 20 kilometres from Konna," Captain Saliou Coulibaly told AFP.
"Six Islamists were killed and we managed to seize eight vehicles and destroy some others."
An Islamist militant told AFP on condition of anonymity that the battle for control of the Konna area was "not finished."
Rebels who have controled northern Mali since April pushed south into government-held territory last week and seized Konna, about 700 kilometres (400 miles) by road from the capital Bamako, prompting France to intervene.
While the Malian army earlier reported it had regained control of Konna, French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tuesday the zone was still in the Islamists' hands.
The area is not accessible to independent observers.
A Malian security source said that the town of Diabaly, where fighting raged between French troops and Islamists on Wednesday, remained under control of the extremists.
A group of insurgents led by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) chief Abou Zeid, seized the town, which lies 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of the capital, on Monday.
French fighter jets later launched airstrikes on the town, which were expected to resume, the security source said.
Witnesses and army sources say the operation has been made more complex by the Islamist fighters merging with the population and using them as a shield.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency