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Mali Feature: A Beginner's Guide --- The Timeline of the Conflict

Compiled from Relief Web, Reuters, and EA's Live Coverage:


  • March 22: Mutinous soldiers led by Captain Amadou Sanogo announce they have overthrown the Bamako government, saying it has failed to give the armed forces the means to defeat a rebellion by Tuareg rebels in the north. The junta leaders detain President Amadou Toumani Toure and suspend the constitution.

  • March 30-April 1: Tuareg rebels and armed Islamists linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) capture a string of key northern towns, including Kidal, Gao, and the fabled city of Timbuktu. Tuareg rebels are then ousted by the Islamists.

  • April 8: President Toure resigns, paving the way for the soldiers who ousted him to stick by a deal to restore civilian rule and hand power to parliamentary speaker Dioncounda Traore.

  • April 9: Members of Mali's Arab community in Timbuktu form the Azawad National Liberation Front, or FLNA, an armed group to fill the void left by the army's retreat from the north.

  • April 13: New interim president Dioncounda Traore, the former parliament speaker, threatens to wage total war on both Tuareg rebels and Islamists as he takes the oath of office.

  • May 26: The Tuareg-led MNLA and Islamist militant group Ansar Dine agree to merge and create an independent state in the north. The Tuaregs ditch the pact a week later.

  • June 27: Islamists from armed groups AQIM, MUJAO (the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa) and Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith) seize total control of the northern city of Gao, ousting Tuareg rebels after clashes between the once-allied groups.

  • June 30: Armed Islamists destroy ancient tombs of Muslim saints in the desert city of Timbuktu and threaten to wipe out every religious shrine there. They impose sharia, the strict and often brutal Islamic law.

  • October 12: The UN Security Council approves a resolution that presses West African nations to speed up preparations for an international military intervention aimed at reconquering northern Mali.

  • November 11: Leaders of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agree to deploy a force of up to 3,300 troops for a year.

  • December 11: Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra resigns, hours after Sanogo orders soldiers to arrest him at his home. Hours later, the interim president appoints Diango Cissoko, formerly the nation's ombudsman, to the post.

  • December 20: The UN Security Council unanimously approves sending an African-led force to help reconquer northern Mali from the Islamist militants. However the Council says all possible diplomatic avenues must be exhausted before force can be used.


  • January 4: Ansar Dine says it has suspended a ceasefire agreed with the government the previous month, accusing Bamako of making a mockery of peace talks by gearing up for war. Ansar Dine is one of the main armed groups controlling northern Mali.

  • January 10: Islamists capture the government-held town of Konna in the country's centre and say they will push farther south, after several days of clashes with the army.

  • Mali's interim president asks France for help, envoys say, as the UN Security Council calls for the "rapid" deployment of the African-led intervention force.

  • Witnesses say that foreign troops and weapons have begun arriving by transport plane at an army base in Sevare, just 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Konna.

  • January 11: Malian government troops launch an offensive against Islamists with backing from France, Nigeria and Senegal, military and political sources say.

  • French President Francois Hollande confirms French troops are actively supporting an offensive by Malian forces against Islamists.

  • January 12: Mali's army retakes control of Konna after one of the worst clashes with Islamists since the start of the crisis. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announces the death of a French military pilot in the battle. The clashes kill dozens of Islamists, according to the Malian military and witnesses.

  • Nigeria pledges 600 troops while Burkina Faso and Senegal each offer 500 for the regional force tasked with wresting back control of the north.

  • January 13: France keeps up airstrikes on Mali, targeting Islamist bases in the northern city of Gao, controlled by the group MUJAO. A top Islamist leader is reported killed.

  • International support is ramped up as Benin, Togo and Niger all promise additional troop reinforcements and Britain says it will send aircraft for logistical support. Algeria reiterates support for its neighbour to Malian President Diango Cissoko, on a visit to Algiers.

  • The ECOWAS bloc convenes an emergency summit for January 19.

  • January 14: Insurgents counter-attack, taking the garrison town of Diabaly in central Mali. French President Francois Hollande says military intervention will be completed "within weeks", but France's warplanes expand strikes into the centre of the country.

    The United Nations Security Council meets in closed-door session. The French Ambassador claims the Security Council offers unanimous support for his country's actions.

    Britain announces that it is supporting the French-Malian Government operations with two C17 cargo planes but says it will not send ground troops.

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