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Former U.S. ambassador to Mali explains the conflict

January 18th, 2013
05:16 PM ET

The former U.S. ambassador to Mali, Vicki Huddleston, explains how the conflict there came about. International leaders are responding to an uprising of Islamist militants in northern Mali, hoping to inject stability in a country once hailed as a model for democracy in Africa. Huddleston tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour that it was the conflict in Libya that "lit the fuse" in Mali.

Filed under:  Latest Episode • Mali

Timbuktu comes out of hiding

January 18th, 2013
05:15 PM ET

By Lucky Gold & Richa Naik, CNN

For nine months Islamic militants have had the legendary city of Timbuktua in a head lock, destroying ancient monuments and enforcing their brand of Sharia law in northern Mali.

France now has 1,800 troops on the ground in Mali and has pledged to keep them there until stability returns to the nation.

Even though French troops have not reached Timbuktu yet, the rebels have withdrawn and people are coming out of hiding.

Some victims of the militants bear horrific scars and tell stories of draconian punishment, but now people are beginning to celebrate.

One man there said just being able to step out and smoke a cigarette was a sign of progress.

Women can choose to walk outside again without a headscarf and people are waving French flags in Bamako, Mali’s capital city.

France’s president vows that French troops will stay “as long as it takes” to build Mali’s army back up, so that country can take on the long struggle against the Islamic militants.

RELATED: What's behind Mali instability?

Filed under:  Latest Episode • Mali

How to beat back Islamic militants in Africa

January 18th, 2013
03:41 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Battles with Islamist militants in Mali and Algeria this week underscore the major challenge al Qaeda poses in North Africa.

But in one northern African country, Islamic fighters are on the run.

This week Somalia’s recently elected president met U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton State who hailed that country's major success in beating back al Qaeda's East Africa affiliate al-Shabab.  FULL POST

Filed under:  Algeria • Latest Episode • Mali • Somalia

WEB EXTRA: Somali president on protecting women and children

January 18th, 2013
01:57 PM ET

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud discusses women's rights, protecting children and how he felt about Knaan’s endorsement with  CNN's Christiane Amanpour.