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Malian-French forces advance in battle while more regional troops arrive in Mali


09:36, January 23, 2013

BAMAKO, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Malian army, supported by its French allies, entered the town of Douentza early on Monday morning, a military source told Xinhua on the same day.

The town of Douentza in Mopti region in Central Mali, is situated about 165 km from Sevare where the Malian army and its French allies have established an operational command center.

The information regarding the capture of Douentza town from the hands of the rebels was equally confirmed by other sources close to the Information and Public Relations Department of the Malian army (DIRPA).

"The allies are advancing towards the North," the security source affirmed.

The Douentza town was captured on Sept. 1, 2012 by the fighters allied to the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) after they neutralized a local self-defense militia known as Ganda- Iso which was protecting the town.

The capture of Douentza town is in addition to that of Konna in Mopti region and Diabaly town near the Mauritanian border, which were recently being controlled by the armed rebels. It will help to prevent the rebel forces from advancing towards the Southern parts of the country.

Last week-end, "targeted" bombardments by the Malian army supported by the French air-force helped to destroy the rear-bases of the rebels in Northern Mali.

In Paris, French President Francois Hollande told the media on Monday that the objective of France in Mali is to allow the international force (MISMA) to take charge and help Mali restore its territorial integrity. And it will take some time.

Considering the period of war against the rebels, the Malian government on Monday announced to extend the nation-wide state of emergency for further three months.

The authorities said that the good progress of the ongoing military operations to liberate the occupied regions in the North and the need to maintain social order across the national territory was the justification for the extension of the state of emergency.

On Jan. 11, the Malian government declared a state of emergency as from Jan. 12 at midnight across the national territory for a period of 10 days.

The coalition forces from the West African nations are moving into Mali slowly with logistical difficulty. Since Jan. 17, a total of 830 soldiers from Nigeria, Niger, Togo and Benin have arrived in Bamako to form the contingents of the International Support Mission for Mali (MISMA) under the African command, a statement published on Sunday on the Website of the French Defense ministry said.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is mobilizing 3,300 soldiers for an Africa-led mission in Mali after the UN Security Council approved its deployment plan in December 2012.

The French defense ministry said that about 2,150 French forces are involved in the operation and their main role is to carry out surveillance and observe the movement of the rebel fighters, carry out targeted raids against the rebels who have been identified on the ground and help to reinforce the capacity of the force in Bamako.

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