French troops enter Kidal, last Mali rebel town



Zeenews Bureau

Sevare: In yet another victory over Islamists in Mali, French troops on Wednesday entered Kidal, the last key Mali town yet under Islamists’ grip and also captured a key airport in the town, officials said.

The airport in Kidal was seized after French aircrafts were deployed overnight in Kidal.

According to a BBC report, French entered the town of Kidal and seized the airport and there was no combat.

Recently, French and Mali troops have recaptured the towns of Timbuktu and Gao, the two key Islamists’ strongholds.

France intervened in Mali this month after the al Qaeda linked rebels, who were already holding northern parts of the country, started moving south.

Haminy Maiga, the interim president of the Kidal regional assembly, said French forces met no resistance when they arrived late Tuesday.

"The French arrived at 9:30 p.m. aboard four planes, which landed one after another. Afterwards they took the airport and then entered the town, and there was no combat," said Maiga, who had been in touch with people in the town by satellite phone as all the normal phone networks were down.

"The French are patrolling the town and two helicopters are patrolling overhead," he added.

In Paris, French army Col. Thierry Burkhard confirmed that the airport was taken overnight and described the operation in Kidal itself as "ongoing."

On Tuesday, a secular Tuareg rebel group had asserted that they were in control of Kidal and other small towns in northern Mali. Maiga said those fighters had left Kidal and were at the entry posts on the roads from Gao and Tessalit.

To help battle the Islamists in their desert hideouts, a U.S. military official says the Pentagon is considering setting up a drone base in northwest Africa to increase intelligence collection.

With Agency Inputs