On January 18, the Malian army announced that government forces had have taken full control of Konna, a city in the center of Mali, which had been seized by Muslim terrorist operators that precipitated military intervention by France last week.
Fr. Edmond Dembele, of the Catholic bishops' conference of Mali, told the Fides news agency, that "the Malian and French troops entered Konna yesterday, but the army was not able to register until today the fact of having taken control of the whole city, because the presence of pockets of resistance and mines were feared. Therefore security measures to avoid unpleasant surprises were then taken, and today it seems that the city is in full control of the regular military forces."
In western Mali, French military operations continue in an effort to regain Diabali continue, which had fallen under the control of the jihadists. Today, troops of the Mission Support to Mali (MISMA) arrived, sent by the Community of West African States (ECOWAS). These include about 250 Nigerian and Togolese troops. Said Dembele, "MISMA should come to understand that 3,000 soldiers will be responsible for supporting the Malian forces to recapture the north."
"Despite the fighting in the capital, Bamako, people live in peace, even though all continue to follow the news that come from the battlefield. Traffic is normal and public services operate regularly, police and gendarmerie, however, have increased the vigilance and security measures," concluded Father Dembele.
Catholic Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako has called on the international community to provide aid to the 400,000 refugees streaming from northern Mali. Humanitarian corridors are needed, said Zerbo, to assure their safety. Caritas Internationalis, the charitable arm of the Catholic Church, has been providing food, water and medicines to refugees streaming to southern Mali and neighboring countries to escape the fighting between government forces and Muslim marauders.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.