Friday, February 22, 2013

Many Killed in Malian Clashes Around Ifoghas Mountains

22 February 2013
Last updated at 19:39 ET

Mali conflict: 'Many die' in Ifoghas mountain battle

Thirteen Chadian and 65 Islamist rebel fighters have been killed in fighting in northern Mali, Chad's military says.

It says five of its soldiers were wounded in the clashes in the mountainous Ifoghas region.

France intervened last month to help the Malian army oust Islamist militants who seized the vast northern region of Mali in 2012.

Thousands of soldiers from African countries have also been deployed in Mali since then.

US drones

The latest clashes took place in the Ifoghas massif - a desert mountain region in the Kidal region near the border with Algeria.

The rebels are believed to have sought refuge there after being forced from the main population centres.

Five rebel vehicles were also destroyed during the fierce battle on Friday, the Chadian military said in a statement.

Fighting between Islamist insurgents and Malian troops - backed by French soldiers - also continued in the central city of Gao.

On Thursday, the coalition said it had recaptured the city hall, which had been seized by militants a day earlier.

In a separate development, US military said it had deployed surveillance drones in Niger to gather information on Islamist militants across the border in Mali and share intelligence with French troops.

The US said a 100-strong contingent was operating the drones out of a base in Niger.
France has said it wants to start withdrawing its 4,000 soldiers from its former colony next month - and would like the African-led mission to become a UN peacekeeping operation.

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