[QODLink]
Africa

Timbuktu tense after deadly battles

Malian soldiers backed by French jets hunt down rebels day after fighters infiltrate ancient city.

Last Modified: 02 Apr 2013 06:17
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The Malian city of Timbuktu is on high alert, after deadly clashes erupted there over the weekend.

Malian soldiers were going house to house on Monday, searching for rebels. At least three fighters were reportedly killed.

Al Jazeera's Mohamed Vall, reporting from the northern town of Kidal, said fighters from unidentified armed groups had entered a house next to the central military headquarters inside Timbuktu and were besieged by the Malian army.

"According to our source, a French aircraft bombardment that house and it's believed the fighters were killed in the air raid," he said. "We understand that some Malian soldiers have also been killed."

The French Defence Ministry said in a statement that jets flew over the city to hunt down fighters, who attempted to flee in the northwest direction. One French soldier was injured during the fighting, the statement said.

Suicide attack

Rebels - who had controlled Timbuktu along with other key northern Mali cities for nearly 10 months until being driven out in January - used the confusion created by a suicide bomber late on Saturday to infiltrate the city.

 

Having slipped into the ancient caravan town, the fighters engaged French and Malian troops in a day-long battle on Sunday.

Al-Qaeda's local chapter claimed responsibility for the attack.

A spokesman for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb issued a statement on the al-Sharq website in Mauritania, saying that the attack on Timbuktu was led by an Algerian suicide bomber, belonging to the Yusuf bin Tashfin brigade, a platoon under the command of late Abou Zeid, who was killed last month by French forces.

Captain Samba Coulibaly, spokesman for the Malian military in Timbuktu, said a total of 11 rebels had been killed since the attack started with a suicide bombing at an army checkpoint late Saturday night.

France launched a military operation in January against al-Qaeda-linked groups occupying the north of the country.

The French-led operation has forced the fighters from the cities they seized in the chaotic aftermath of a military coup that overthrew Mali's government in March 2012.

357

Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
After decades of overfishing, Japan is taking aim at increasing the number of bluefin tuna in the ocean.
Chinese scientists are designing a particle-smashing collider so massive it could encircle a city.
Critics say the government is going full-steam ahead on economic recovery at the expense of human rights.
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
join our mailing list