“A French military operation to secure the northern Malian town of Gao is still under way, nearly two weeks after French and Malian troops moved into the city, a military spokesperson has said.
French troops are now searcing out al-Qaeda-linked rebels who may be mixing among the population of the town, after new clashes raised questions about the military’s hold over the north.
Colonel Thierry Burkhard, a French military spokesperson, said on Thursday that there was a risk of a “residual presence” of rebels among the population.
Rebels fired rocket launchers at French troops near Gao on Tuesday.
Further north in the area of Kidal, French Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighter jets have been hammering targets including the rebels’ logistical depots and training camps, the French military says.
France launched a military operation in Mali on January 11.