French drive Islamists back in Mali
Oh those unilateral French, going into the tiny African country of Mali to forestall a takeover by Islamists. Where's the outrage? Where's the name calling? Where's the UN?
I guess some interventions are more equal than others.
French forces have continued to launch air strikes against Islamist militants in Mali and sent troops to protect the capital, Bamako.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said rebels heading towards the central town of Mopti were attacked. A French pilot was killed, he said.
French troops were deployed on Friday after Mali's army lost control of a strategically important town, Konna.
Islamist groups overran huge areas of northern Mali last year.
One of the groups, Ansar Dine, moved further south into Konna on Thursday. But Mali's government said forces recaptured the town after the French air strikes.
Ansar Dine responded by threatening France with reprisals because of its intervention.
In a separate development, West African bloc Ecowas has authorised the immediate deployment of its troops to Mali.
In a statement, Ecowas Commission President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo said the decision was made "in light of the urgency of the situation".
A government official in Niger told Reuters news agency around 500 troops would be sent while AFP reported that Burkina Faso was sending a similar force.
The surge in fighting is the most serious since armed groups, some linked to al-Qaeda, took control of the whole of northern Mali last April.
Since then, two groups - Ansar Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao) - have sought to enforce an extreme interpretation of Islamic law in the area.
Regional and Western governments have expressed growing concern about the security threat from extremists and organised crime.
Meanwhile, back at the UN, there's been a lot of talk and handwringing but not much action. This is why the French intervened. The Mali government was finding it difficult to drive the Islamists out of their strongholds and the French obliged them by sending about 500 soldiers and a few jets. It should be enough to turn the tide but there are no guarantees that either Islamist group will not try a takeover again.