The town of Konna, in central Mali, is of huge strategic value for linking the northern deserts held by the rebels with the highways to southern cities held by the French-backed Malian junta. The town has been reclaimed by the junta after several days of French attacks.
But while the junta revels in its “victory” and pledges to reclaim the rest of the nation, with French military help of course, the offensive has given international journalists their first look at “rebel-held” territory, as Konna has been since January 10, and the civilian cost of the French strategy of air strikes.
Much of Konna was destroyed in the seemingly random attacks, and helicopter gunships reportedly attacked and killed a family of four who were preparing food in the courtyard of their home. All told at least 12 civilians were killed, all by French forces.
Officials shrugged off the deaths, saying “mistakes happen,” and insisting that the slain would hold no ill will toward the French for retaking their town, or at least what is left of it, from the rebels.