A Puma helicopter flies above French military vehicles near Bourem, northern Mali, on February 17, 2013.
French and Malian troops have seized Mali’s town of Bourem, after they launched operations against fighters, France's military officials say.
According to an unnamed French military official, the strategic town, situated some 95 kilometers (60 miles) away from the northern city of Gao, was seized during planned operations on Sunday. Some 1,000 French-led forces were positioned in the town, he added.
On February 11, French-led troops conducted house-to-house searches for local fighters in the city of Gao after they seized the city.
Reports say that some of the fighters hid among the population after French and Malian forces took control of the city . On the same day, a strong explosion took place near a military checkpoint in the north of Gao.
On February 10, heavy clashes were reported in the center of the city near an empty police station, where the fighters had used as a base last month.
France launched its war on Mali on January 11 under the pretext of halting the advance of the fighters in the country. The war has left thousands of Malians homeless.
On February 1, Amnesty International condemned “serious human rights breaches” including the killing of children in the French war in Mali.
The rights organization said there was “evidence that at least five civilians, including three children, were killed in an airstrike” carried out by French forces against local fighters.
Analysts believe behind the military campaign in Mali are the country’s untapped resources of oil, gold, and uranium.