Mali Islamists cut telecom links to Gao: residents

Mali Islamists cut telecom links to Gao: residents

Islamist rebels in Mali have cut telecommunication links to the northern city of Gao to stop residents from passing information to advancing French and Malian troops, locals said Tuesday.

A Malian police officer stands on the roadside as a convoy of French army soldiers leave Bamako and start a deployment to the north of Mali on January 15, 2013. Islamist rebels in Mali have cut telecommunication links to the northern city of Gao to stop residents from passing information to the French and Malian armies attacking them, locals said Tuesday.

"They cut communications. They accuse residents of giving information to the soldiers," a resident of the key town told AFP by satellite phone.

All landlines and mobile phone communications have been cut, the resident added.

French air strikes on Sunday drove the insurgents from their strongholds in the north to take shelter in the vast desert territory.

Gao had for nine months been under the control of Islamist militants who imposed a harsh form of Islamic law that included the amputation of the hands of thieves.

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