The Polisario Front, which is fighting for independence of the western Sahara from Morocco, has denied that Islamist fighters fleeing Mali have infiltrated refugee camps in Algeria.
Fighting in the historic northern Mali town of Timbuktu this weekend left three Islamist fighters dead and five Malian troops wounded, the Malian army said Sunday.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was to meet Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaoré on Saturday after declaring France’s task in Mali 70 per cent accomplished.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited the “last bastions” Islamist militias in northern Mali on a surprise visit Thursday.
Villagers in north Mali arrested two young men with explosives strapped to their bodies on Saturday, witnesses report.
France has asked the UN to take rover the command of forces in Mali as Paris prepares to start pulling its troops out next month.
French and Malian troops suffered casualties in clashes with Islamist fighters near northern Mali’s main town, Gao, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday.
Nato is not likely to become involved in Mali, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday.
French troops have arrived in the northern Mali town of Kidal, driving Islamist rebels into the mountains. But the Malian general staff was not aware of the French plan, sources say.
The French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, says French and Malian troops are advancing north towards Timbuktu as the operation against Islamist militants enters its 17th day.