The poor showing by Mali’s Army against Islamist radicals in the key city of Konna this week has France worried enough to send troops.
The fighting takes place amid concerns that Al Qaeda-linked militants are poised to push south to the strategic, government-controlled cities of Sévaré and Mopti, where many residents have reportedly started to panic.
Analysts say the loss of Sévaré, which hosts a key military base and nearby airport, would make it even more difficult to retake northern Mali – a vast desert expanse where organized criminal networks have linked-up with jihadist groups, netting tens of millions of dollars through kidnapping and control of the lucrative cocaine trade, and often brandishing weapons smuggled from Libya after the fall of Mumar Gaddafi.
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* No disrespect to the great people at Monitor, but I would like to clarify to readers that it was not I who chose this headline.