War and peace in Mali: The battle moves to the mountains

Chase them into the hills

WHILE the ancient city of Timbuktu was under the rule of jihadists, a 21-year-old woman with almond-shaped eyes called Mamou Maiga accepted a ride home from a handsome occupier calling himself Adama. “He said I was very special,” she murmurs. They were married after he offered her reluctant family a large dowry. But three weeks ago, as French troops could be spied from the city’s mud-brick minarets, Adama fled. His bride is distraught, her family relieved. Mamou’s younger sister says she hates the jihadists, who for ten months imposed harsh rules, and hopes her fly-by-night brother-in-law will never come back. “Why would you even answer the phone to him?” she asks.Mamou is unlikely to see Adama again soon, given how decisively French troops chased the Islamists out of the populated parts of northern Mali. Some were struck down from the air as they crossed open desert; the French reckon they have killed several hundred out of an estimated total of 3,000. The rest are hiding in remote mountains near the Algerian border.

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