Islamists in northern Mali fire on two aircraft

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  1. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Long walk Elite Member

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    Islamist militants who have taken control of Timbuktu in northwest Mali fired on two aircraft flying over the famed desert trading town, residents and a journalist said Friday.


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    "Two white-coloured planes flew on Thursday over the town of Timbuktu and the Islamists fired with heavy weaponry at the aircraft," resident Oumar Maiga told AFP.

    A local journalist said that the unidentified planes were not hit and "rapidly gained altitude".

    Oumar Ould Hammaha, one of the military chiefs of the Ansar Dine (Defenders of Islam) movement, which controls the ancient town with the support of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), confirmed the reports.

    "Yes, we opened fire, and if it pleases God, we shall soon shoot down the enemy planes that fly over Timbuktu. France, the UN, can send all the means in the world. With the grace of God, we will defeat the enemy."

    Islamist forces and Tuareg rebels seized control of the northern half of Mali in March, taking advantage of a successful coup in Bamako by renegade soldiers against president Amadou Toumani Toure.

    The African Union is seeking UN backing for armed intervention in the west African state to restore order and perhaps seek to recapture the north, but on Wednesday the UN Security Council simply "took note" of the situation and a diplomatic source said it needed more information.

    Security sources in northern Mali said that Al-Qaeda is believed to have obtained anti-aircraft weapons from troubled Libya.

    The sources said that Islamists, who came notably from Egypt, recently visited northern Mali to make this weaponry operational and explain how to use it to the local Muslim fundamentalists.

    The US military has since 2007 developed a network of air bases in Africa for surveillance missions of Al-Qaeda and other armed groups, using small planes disguised as private civilian aircraft, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

    According to the newspaper, the United States operates from about a dozen bases located around the continent, including sites in Burkina Faso and in Mauritania, to keep an eye on AQIM and other movements.

    Islamists in northern Mali fire on two aircraft
     
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