Wednesday, January 30, 2013

French Troops Enter Malian Town of Kidal

French troops enter Malian town of Kidal

Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:10PM GMT

French forces have entered Mali’s northern town of Kidal, the last major town held by local fighters, as part of its war in the West African country.

The arrival of French troops in Kidal on Wednesday came only days after they took control of Gao and Timbuktu, the other urban strongholds of the fighters, in a three-week war in its former West African colony.

"French elements were deployed overnight in Kidal," said French army spokesman Thierry Burkhard on Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday reports also said that French troops had landed at Kidal airport.

"We confirm that French aircraft are on the Kidal landing strip and that protection helicopters are in the sky," a regional security source said.

Haminy Maiga, the interim president of the Kidal regional assembly, said that the French troops “arrived at 9:30pm local time [Tuesday] aboard four planes. Afterwards they took the airport and then entered the town and there was no combat.”

"The French are patrolling the town and two helicopters are patrolling overhead," he added.

Thousands of people in Mali have been forced to flee their homes amid the French war, which involved some 3,500 troops on the ground supported by warplanes, helicopters and armored vehicles.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that more than 5,000 Malian refugees have arrived in Mauritania alone since January 11, when France launched the war under the pretext of halting the advance of the fighters in the African country.

Analysts believe that behind the military campaign are Mali’s untapped resources, including oil, gold, as well as the uranium in the region.

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