France authorized by Algeria to use its airspace for military intervention in Mali
Algeria authorizes France to use its airspace for Mali operation
Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:47PM GMT
France says Algeria has allowed French warplanes to employ its airspace for conducting bombing strikes on the north of the West African country of Mali.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday that “Algeria has authorized the overflight of its territory.”
The announcement came after French Rafale fighter jets targeted bases belonging to rebels near the city of Gao in northern Mali.
The minister also expressed hope that Algeria would prevent rebels from escaping from the north of Mali, adding, “We are working with the Algerians… What we have in mind is that if African troops move into the north of the country the Algerians will have to close their border.”
France began its military action in Mali on Friday for what it said was to halt advances made by the rebels who control the north of the West African country.
On the same day, the Malian army said it had driven back militants from the town of Konna after France intervened with airstrikes.
Fabius highlighted that the military intervention in Mali was launched in response to “an appeal for help from the government of Mali and in the framework of international law.”
French air raids on Sunday left a large number of civilians dead. A spokesman for one of Mali’s rebel groups, Ansar Dine, said that only five of the people killed by French airstrikes were members of the group.
The Ansar Dine spokesman added that the French bombardment left hospitals in the town of Konna overwhelmed with injured and dead, including many women, children, and elderly people.
Human Rights Watch also said that some 10 civilians, including three children, were killed during the airstrikes.
Unrest erupted in Mali after President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012.
The irony is that the coup leaders had said they mounted the coup out of anger at the government’s inability to contain a rebellion in the north of the country.