Fri Feb 22, 2013
Thirteen Chadian soldiers were killed in
fighting in northern Mali on Friday, the heaviest casualties sustained by French and African troops since the launch of a military campaign against Islamist rebels there six weeks ago, Chad’s army said.
Chadian troops killed 65 al Qaeda-linked
fighters in the clashes that began before
midday in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains near Mali’s northern border
with Algeria. “The provisional toll is … on the enemy’s side, five vehicles destroyed and 65 terrorists killed. We deplore the deaths of 13 of our valiant soldiers,” said a statement from the army general staff read on state radio.
France intervened in its former West African colony last month to stop a
southward offensive by Islamist rebels
who seized control of the north last April. Troops from neighboring African nations -including 2,000 soldiers from Chad – have since deployed to Mali and are meant to take over leadership of the operation when French forces begin a planned withdrawal next month.
But continuing violence since the Islamists were driven from major urban
areas highlights the risk of French and
African forces becoming entangled in a
messy guerrilla war as they try to help
Mali’s weak army counter bombings and armed raids.