Mali Welcomes French Intervention

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Jeb Sharp: I'm Jeb Sharp and this is The World. The conflict in Mali took an unexpected turn today despite a fourth day of French air strikes against Islamist militant in the West African nation. The militants gain more territory. The Islamists have controlled Mali's North for months. Now they're moving into government-held Central Mali despite the French intervention that was supposed to stop their advance. Civilians in the region are fleeing the conflict. The group [speaking French] or Doctors Without Borders is reporting that some areas are becoming ghost towns and the number of refugees crossing the border into neighboring countries is steadily growing. Ousmane Diadie Toure is a film maker in Mali's capital, Bamako. He's a member of Defenders of the Republic, an activist movement led by artists and professionals. Ousmane, what's been the reaction to the French war planes bombing Islamist bases.

Ousmane Diadie Toure: The arrival of the French soldiers, there was a feeling of relief in Bamako. Now we're seeing French flags, all over Bamako.

Sharp: You're seeing French flags everywhere?

Toure: I think there was a reborn of French love in Mali because of the French coming to rescue us from such situations.

Sharp: Ousmane, were you surprised that the French intervened?

Toure: Surprised, we were. I mean, we were because I wasn't expecting it. It's most welcome anyway. It came right on time. We were wishing and hoping that the West African forces would come much earlier because we've seen that this conflict had been going on for a couple of months and we were really expecting a very quick reaction from West African forces. We are part of Ecowas. So we really were wishing and hoping that Ecowas would respond quickly to our demands.

Sharp: Do you see this French intervention as a turning point?

Toure: Most definitely. Most definitely. We've seen the result on the ground. With the French forces, we were able to stop at least the terrorists. We still need more. We still need more. We have seen on the ground, fighting on the ground, that we still need more and to secure the country and to free the other regions.

Sharp: Are you hoping or expecting other countries would get involved, including the U.S.?

Toure: We wish. We wish. We wish. We've heard on the news that the U.S. is already involved into helping logistically in terms of information and we should hope that they'll help more.

Sharp: There are reports that Malians are lining up to give blood to help injured civilians.

Toure: Those who can give blood are giving blood. Those who can help financially or in terms of communication. Some doctors, civilian doctors, are going on the war front and helping.

Sharp: Ousmane Diadie Toure is a film maker and activist. He's currently in Bamako. Thanks for your time.

Toure: Thank you.