By AP, 3:37AM BST 06 Jul 2013
The Malian military has entered the northern city of Kidal, returning for the first time since they were chased out 16 months ago by a Tuareg separatist group, and later by an army of al-Qaeda-linked fighters.
„It was around 5pm that the soldiers entered Kidal and penetrated Camp 1 inside the city. The Malian military was accompanied by the French military, just as they were when our soldiers entered Timbuktu and Gao,“ said Lt. Col. Souleymane Maiga, the director of information and public relations for the Malian military.
The return of the Malian forces was confirmed by Kidal’s deputy mayor. Kidal, like the rest of northern Mali, fell to a mixture of rebel groups in March of 2012. It remained in rebel hands during the past six months, even after French forces launched a military intervention to free northern Mali from the fighters, succeeding in liberating all of the other major towns.
Tuareg rebels re-entered Kidal in February and March of this year, erecting roadblocks, levying taxes and creating a de facto Tuareg state.