Analysis: France, Africa face tough Sahara phase of Mali war
(Reuters) - The French or African troops who hunt down the Islamist fighters holed up in the mountains and deserts of northeast Mali may find a resilient enemy capable of fighting back with a concealed arsenal of surprising firepower.
France's initial success in its three-week old intervention in its former colony has gained Paris plaudits at home and abroad as a welcome blow struck against radical jihadists threatening Africa and the West.
But the next step in stabilizing Mali and pursuing the al Qaeda-allied fighters in their remote desert and mountain bolt-holes near Algeria's border looks like a much tougher task.
It will take longer than a few weeks and likely require a bigger and more international effort than the limited offensive that has so far involved 3,500 French soldiers on the ground, backed by warplanes, helicopters and armored vehicles.