BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — France says its troops and warplanes in Mali have driven Islamist rebels from a key city and destroyed a militant command center.
France has sent its forces to the West African nation in response to an appeal from the country's president. Al-Qaida-linked militants have seized control of the vast, desert region of northern Mali over the past nine months.
Other nations in the region also are sending troops to support the government of the former French colony.
France's defense minister the militants threaten to create "a terrorist state at the doorstep of France and Europe."
Al-Qaida's affiliate in Africa, Ansar Dine (dih-NEH'), has been a shadowy presence for years in the forests and deserts of Mali, a country hobbled by poverty and a relentless cycle of hunger. Most Malians adhere to a moderate form of Islam.
134-c-09-(Jamey Keaten, AP correspondent)-"had recently taken"-AP correspondent Jamey Keaten reports French airstrikes in Mali have driven back the jihadists who'd been advancing toward the country's key military facility. (12 Jan 2013)
<<CUT *134 (01/12/13)>> 00:09 "had recently taken"
135-c-15-(Jamey Keaten, AP correspondent)-"French president yesterday"-AP correspondent Jamey Keaten reports a French pilot has died of his wounds while being evacuated to safety as airstrikes hit Mali Islamists. ((refers to Friday as yesterday)) (12 Jan 2013)
<<CUT *135 (01/12/13)>> 00:15 "French president yesterday"
136-c-17-(Jamey Keaten, AP correspondent)-"for terror groups"-AP correspondent Jamey Keaten reports the French are very concerned about its own people in Mali, and also that an international terrorist threat is building there, right on the doorstep of Europe. (12 Jan 2013)
<<CUT *136 (01/12/13)>> 00:17 "for terror groups"
137-c-16-(Jamey Keaten, AP correspondent)-"accelerate their timetable"-AP correspondent Jamey Keaten reports France launched its military operation when the al-Qaida-linked militants in northern Mali started heading south. (12 Jan 2013)
<<CUT *137 (01/12/13)>> 00:16 "accelerate their timetable"
103-a-15-(U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in AP interview)-"other regional powers"-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the U.N. has authorized an African-led force to support Malian troops in recovering the north. (12 Jan 2013)
<<CUT *103 (01/12/13)>> 00:15 "other regional powers"
102-a-13-(U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in AP interview)-"very difficult situation"-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he follows the developments in the region closely. (12 Jan 2013)
<<CUT *102 (01/12/13)>> 00:13 "very difficult situation"
101-a-16-(U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in AP interview)-"as human rights"-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is 'deeply concerned' with the ongoing violence in Mali. (12 Jan 2013)
<<CUT *101 (01/12/13)>> 00:16 "as human rights"
APPHOTO NY215: FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2012 file photo, fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Islamist group Ansar Dine leave after performing a public amputation, severing the hand of a young man found guilty of stealing rice, in Timbuktu, Mali. France launched a military operation Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 to help the government of Mali defeat al-Qaida-linked militants who captured more ground this week, dramatically raising the stakes in the battle for this vast desert nation. (AP Photo/File) (16 Sep 2012)
<<APPHOTO NY215 (09/16/12)>>