Mali rebels retreat in east, fight in west difficult: France

14th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

Islamists have retreated in the east of Mali but French forces are facing a difficult situation in the west of the country where rebels are well armed, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday.

"The situation is developing in line with the expectations" of French President Francois Hollande and is "developing favourably", Le Drian told reporters.

"In the east of Mali, the terrorist groups' advance was blocked, the city of Konna was abandoned and the terrorist groups retreated towards Douentza," he said.

"In Gao, there was some targeted firing on the rear base of (Al-Qaeda offshoot) MUJAO, which gave some extremely tangible results and led to this terrorist group's dispersion towards the east and the south," Le Drian said.

He added however that the situation "remains difficult in the West," where French and Malian forces are confronting "extremely well-armed groups".

© 2013 AFP

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