Die-hard soccer fans in the Malian capital Bamako take a break from the conflict in the north of the country where international efforts are targeting Islamists rebels.
BAMAKO, MALI (JANUARY 20, 2013)(REUTERS) - Malians watching their Eagles team beat Niger in South Africa on Sunday (January 20) hoped the same luck would follow the country's soldiers fighting Islamist rebels in the north.
"Of course this situation in Mali has touched us here in Bamako too. God willing, we pray to the good God that they give courage to our soldiers to win and liberate the north against the enemy," said Cissoko, a man watching the match with his friends.
Up in the north of the country, Malian and French troops clinched in a fight to chase al Qaeda linked rebels out of the country advanced cautiously toward northern Mali amid fears of ambush by al Qaeda-linked fighters, while French fighter jets pounded the Islamists' strongholds in the desert near Timbuktu.