The Malian Army has retaken the town of Konna, which was captured by militants on Thursday, a Malian Defense Ministry official has announced.
“The Malian Army has retaken Konna with the help of our military partners. We are there now,” Lieutenant Colonel Diaran Kone said on Friday.
The Malian troops drove back the militants from Konna, which is located in the center of the country, after France intervened on Friday with airstrikes to halt advances by the rebels who control the north of the West African country.
The militants occupying northern Mali want to take full control of the country, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said earlier on Friday, shortly after French President Francois Hollande announced that France would support the Malian government in the conflict.
The rebels are “profiting from the delay between the taking of international decisions and their application,” the French foreign minister said, adding that armed groups had “moved south, their goal being to gain control of all of Mali.”
France has taken military action to prevent the rebels from making more gains and “it consists essentially of blocking” their advance, Fabius stated.
“We must stop the… breakthrough, if not then all of Mali will fall into their hands, with a threat to all of Africa and to Europe itself,” he added.
Malian officials say Nigeria and Senegal have sent ground forces to support the government forces in the conflict.
Chaos broke out in the West African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government’s inability to contain the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country, which had been going on for two months.
However, in the wake of the coup d’Ã©tat, the Tuareg rebels took control of the entire northern desert region, but the Ansar Dine extremists then pushed them aside and took control of the region, which is larger than France or Texas.