French, Mali Forces Re-Take City After Rebel Canoe Raid

Analysts warn this could be start of guerrilla campaign
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2013 10:19 AM CST
French, Mali Forces Re-Take City After Rebel Canoe Raid
French soldiers secure the area where a suicide bomber attacked, at the entrance of Gao, northern Mali, yesterday.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

It may be too soon to call Mali "mission accomplie," after Islamic rebels renewed fighting in the eastern city of Gao last night, reports the Christian Science Monitor. About a dozen rebels sneaked across the Niger River over the weekend in canoes, placing snipers on buildings to fire at Malian troops yesterday. “God’s faithful successfully attacked the Malian army, which let the enemies of Islam come to Gao,” said a rebel spokesman yesterday.

French officials say the city was back in their control today, reportedly letting Malian troops lead the response and the door-to-door hunt for more rebels who could be in the city. A French helicopter did fire, but only after rebels began using heavy weapons, like rocket-propelled grenades. With the attack, some analysts are saying the French could be facing the start of a guerrilla counter-attack, and Russia's foreign minister said the rebels were a direct result of France's operations in Libya in the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi. “France is fighting against those in Mali whom it had once armed in Libya against Gadhafi in violation of the embargo ordered by the UN Security Council,” wrote the minister in a newspaper column. (More Mali stories.)

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