Islamist fighters in northern Mali have pledged to strike “at the heart” of France, after a joint Malian-French offensive — which has entered its fourth day — began pushing back al Qaeda linked rebels controlling the region.
“France has attacked Islam. We will strike at the heart of France,” Abou Dardar, a leader of Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), one of the Mali-based groups with ties to al Qaeda, told the AFP news agency.
Asked where attacks would take place, Dardar said: “Everywhere. In Bamako, in Africa and in Europe.”
The operation to retake the north has received the official backing from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), of which Mali is a member, and has been promised logistical support from the United States and Britain.
Malian troops on the ground and around 550 French soldiers deployed so far are awaiting the arrival of a 3,300-stong multi-nation African force. French President François Hollande said French involvement would last “as long as is necessary.”
French army commander Colonel Paul Gèze told Malian television on Sunday that the French military contingency would reach full strength on Monday, but would primarily be deployed around the capital of Bamako to protect the 6,000-strong French expatriate community.
Full article: Mali-based Islamists pledge attacks on French soil (France 24)