BAMAKO, Mali – With Islamist militants controlling more than half of the northwest African nation of Mali and threatening the rest of government-held territory, France launched airstrikes in a dramatic escalation of the conflict that some observers have called the next Afghanistan. French commandoes also reportedly attacked an Islamist base in Somalia to try to rescue a French hostage.
The raid early Saturday in Somalia could have been aimed at preventing al-Shabab fighters from harming the kidnapped French security official in reprisal for the French military intervention in Mali. A Somali intelligence official, who insisted on anonymity because he was not allowed to discuss the case with the news media, said the raid in Bulomarer killed “several” al-Shabab fighters but he had no information on the hostage.
An al-Shabab official confirmed the fighting and said the group held one dead French soldier. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
However, the office of Col. Thierry Burkhard, the French military’s main spokesman for overseas operations, said it had no information about any Somalia action.
French President Francois Hollande said the “terrorist groups, drug traffickers and extremists” in northern Mali “show a brutality that threatens us all.” He vowed that the operation would last “as long as necessary.”
Read more from this story HERE.