France bombs Mali ‘rebels’ with support from the UK – by what authority? In whose name?

 

French fighter jets bombed Islamist rebels in Mali for a third day on Sunday as Paris poured more troops into the capital Bamako, awaiting the arrival of a West African force to dislodge al Qaeda-linked insurgents from the country’s north.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France‘s dramatic intervention on Friday to bomb a convoy of heavily armed Islamist fighters sweeping southwards had stopped them from seizing Mali’s capital Bamako within days.

Western countries fear Islamists could use Mali as a base for attacks on the West, forming a link with al Qaeda militants in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa.

Le Drian said former colonial power France was carrying out continuous bombing raids against the alliance of rebel groups, which seized the country’s vast desert north in April.

“There are raids going on now: there were some last night, and there will be more tomorrow,” Le Drian told French television. “The president is totally determined that we must eradicate these terrorists who threaten the security of Mali, our own country and Europe.”

Residents said French aircraft bombed the northern town of Gao, and a Malian rebel spokesman said they bombed targets in the towns of Lere and Douentza.

Le Drian said France was deploying a further contingent of 80 soldiers to Mali on Sunday, bring the total to 550 soldiers , split between Bamako and the town of Mopti, some 500 km (300 miles) north. State-of-the-art Rafale fighter jets would be dispatched to reinforce the operation on Sunday, he said.

A Reuters cameraman reported seeing on Sunday more than 100 French troops disembarking from a military cargo plane at Bamako airport, just on the outskirts of the capital.

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