Bamako: More than 100 people including rebels and
government soldiers were killed in Mali during French air strikes
and fighting over the strategic town of Konna, Malian military
sources and witnesses said on Saturday.
An army officer at the headquarters of Mali’s former military
junta in Bamako told Reuters “over 100” rebels had been killed,
while a shopkeeper in Konna said he had counted 148 bodies, among
them several dozen government soldiers.
“We have driven them out,
we are effectively in Konna,” Malian Defence Ministry spokesman
Lt. Col. Diaran Kone told Reuters. “We don’t know if they have
planted mines or other traps, so we are moving with caution. There
were many deaths on both sides.”
President Francois Hollande said
that French military intervention in Mali had halted the advance
of militants trying to push south from their northern stronghold.
Hollande said French air power, deployed on Friday to stem the
rebel onslaught, had “served to halt our adversaries,” adding that
the intervention “has but only one goal which is the fight against
“Our foes have suffered heavy losses,” he said,
according to AFP.
Hollande added that France will pursue operations in Mali to
prepare a subsequent African-led intervention to oust Islamist
rebels and will step up anti-terrorist security measures on its
“We have already held back the progress of our
adversaries and inflicted heavy losses on them. But our mission is
not over yet,” Hollande told a news conference a day after France
launched air strikes to pre-empt a feared rebel advance towards
the capital Bamako.
Several West African nations have pledged the deployment of
hundreds of soldiers after French forces helped Mali’s army push
back the rebels who had taken a key town, Konna, seen as one of
the last ramparts against a further Islamist advance.