A total of 10 civilians, including three children, have so far been killed in Konna in the war that erupted this week in central Mali, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement, as the French Air Force continues to bomb Islamist positions in central Mali to halt their advance to the south.
The three children were reportedly trying to cross the Niger River to hide on the other side from intense bombardments when they drowned, media reports said, citing HRW spokesperson Corinne Dufka.
Meanwhile Senegal, Burkina Faso and Nigeria were preparing to send back-up troops to help their neighbour Mali get rid of Islamist fighters who have occupied two-thirds of the country over the past 10 months.
Senegal and Burkina Faso will send 500 each, while Nigeria, the country which will lead the operation, will have 600 troops on the ground.
Leaders from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS said they will meet on Wednesday to map out the way forward to the Mali conflict.
The French defence ministry said Operation Serval will last as long as it can until s’ome objectives’ have been met.
A spokesperson for Ansar-dine told Radio France Internationale that his group, alongside his allies Mujao, AQIM and Nigeria’s Boko Haram, will fight until the end. He was also quoted as saying that France will pay a heavy price for its intervention in Mali.
*Photo by Alltravels.com/Enzopost. Konna women in happier times, travelling by boat on the Niger River.