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Conflict erupts in northern Mali

AP Images
Fighters from Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard in Timbuktu, Mali, as they prepare to publicly lash a member of the Islamic Police found guilty of adultery.

There’s a West African city that represents the end of the world, the remote place that inspired the phrase, “From here to Timbuktu.”

But today, Timbuktu, along with the rest of northern Mali, is drawing the world’s rapt attention, a place no longer a vague destination but the target of an impending western-backed military intervention.
The region -- as big as Texas -- has been taken over by Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants linked to the al-Qaida terrorist movement.

They’ve imposed a violent form of Shariah — with public whippings, beatings, amputations and stonings. The militants in the normally tolerant nation are forcing women to cover up. And they’re preparing for war, against a coalition of African forces -- who are backed by European nations that consider the Islamist militants a significant threat to political stability in West Africa.

Global Journalist was joined by a writer from Mali to provide an insider’s perspective on the escalating international crisis in the newest failed state.

Mohamed Keita works for the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York, the advocacy coordinator for CPJ’s Africa Program.

Rehman Tungekar is a former producer for KBIA, who left at the beginning of 2014.