Major dates in French-led Mali offensive

30th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

A timeline of key events in Mali since France launched a military push to wrest control of the country's north from Islamist fighters.

-- JANUARY 2013 --

- 10: Islamists capture the government-held central town of Konna and say they will push further south. Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore asks France for help.

- 11: With French support, Malian government troops launch an offensive against the Islamists.

- 12: France announces the death of a French helicopter pilot.

- 13: French air strikes target Islamist bases in the northern regions of Gao and Kidal, as France says Algeria has granted warplanes access to its airspace.

- 14: Rebels abandon key northern bases but seize the town of Diabaly in government-held territory, 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of the capital Bamako, vowing to "strike at the heart of France."

- 15: France engages ground troops for the first time.

- 16: The crisis escalates as Islamists hold dozens of foreign workers hostage at a gas site in Algeria's remote southeastern desert in revenge for France's military effort.

- 17: The Malian army retakes the town of Konna.

- 19: Algerian special forces storm the gas complex, ending the hostage drama. At least 37 foreign hostages and one Algerian hostage are killed, along with 29 hostage-takers.

- 20: French troops prepare to advance north to the central towns of Niono and Sevare. France's defence minister says the goal of the operation is the "total reconquest" of Mali.

- 21: French and Malian troops recapture the towns of Diabaly and Douentza. US logistical aid begins.

- 23: Two human rights groups demand a probe into accusations of abuses by Malian troops, against Arabs and Tuaregs in particular.

- 24: A new group, the Islamic Movement of Azawad, announces it has split from Ansar Dine and wants talks for a "peaceful solution."

- 25: French and Malian troops recapture Hombori, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Gao.

- 26: French-led troops recapture Gao.

- 27: French and Malian troops advance on Timbuktu as French air strikes on Kidal destroy the home of Ansar Dine leader Iyad Ag Ghaly.

- 28: Malian and French forces recapture Timbuktu, where rebels torched a library containing valuable manuscripts.

A breakaway faction of an Al-Qaeda-linked group and Tuareg rebels confirms joint control of Kidal, the last Islamist bastion left for French-led troops to reconquer.

- 29: Hundreds of Malians loot Timbuktu shops, as global donors pledge over $455 million (337 million euros) for the military push.

- 30: French troops enter Kidal. Rebel leaders are hiding out in a mountainous region north of the city, according to a Malian security source.

© 2013 AFP

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