Ennis Daily News

Aid groups warn they can’t reach key Mali town

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Mali’s military claimed Friday that it has held control of a key town where Islamic extremists had battled forces for a week, though aid groups warned they were unable to reach the area to provide humanitarian assistance.

Meanwhile, the United Nations warned that some 700,000 civilians could be displaced by the fighting in Mali, where France launched a military intervention last week to oust the rebels from power in the north.

The French took action after the Islamist militants advanced from their stronghold in the vast, desert north toward the central Malian town of Konna.

A Malian military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists, said Friday that they were holding the town and that the Islamists had been chased out.

Telephone lines were cut off in the town, making it difficult to independently verify the claim.

Doctors Without Borders has been trying to get to Konna since Monday but all roads leading to the community in central Mali have been closed by the Malian military, said Malik Allaouna, director of operations for the group known as MSF by its initials in French.

“Despite our repeated requests, we are still being refused access to the Konna region,” he said. “It is essential to allow the delivery of neutral and impartial medical and humanitarian aid in the areas affected by the conflict.”

In Geneva, U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said that the number of displaced Malians is expected to increase dramatically in the coming months.

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Posted by on Jan 18 2013. Filed under Off-the-wire, World news. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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