Church in Mali welcomes military intervention17 January 2013
Christian leaders in Mali welcomed the arrival of French troops last weekend to push back the Islamists who have seized control of the north of the country.
Fr Edmond Dembele, secretary of the Malian bishops' conference, told the Rome-based news agency Fides that the Malian population was "greatly comforted" by the French military intervention. He said: "Even the people in the north, occupied by the rebels, look with hope to the military operations."
The priest was speaking as French pilots carried out air strikes on the towns of Douentza, Timbuktu and Gao early this week. Reports suggested the Islamists had fled before the jets arrived.
A Baptist pastor from Timbuktu, who fled to the US last year after rebels issued death threats against him, told The Tablet that the international community needed to commit more troops to overthrowing the Islamists. Pastor Nouh Yattara said: "The troops coming are just in the 100s but the terrorists are in their 1000s. We need more international collaboration."
France has 750 troops in Mali and on Tuesday President Francois Hollande said that number would increase.
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