July 14 - Malians volunteer for a largely citizen army that is aiming to dislodge Islamic militants who have taken over much of the West African country. Andrew Raven reports.
Volunteers learn the finer points of shooting in northern Mali. The roughly 800 men and women here have signed up to be part of a largely citizen army. Their goal is to dislodge Islamic insurgents who have taken over two-thirds of the West African country. Mali has been riven by chaos since a presidential coup in January opened the door to uprisings in the north. These fighters, members of Northern Regions Liberation front, said the government is paralyzed and they have little choice but to confront the insurgents on their own. (SOUNDBITE) (French) MOUSSA MAIGA, HEAD OF NORTHERN REGIONS LIBERATION FRONT, SAYING: "We can't delay it, there's no time left. As soon as we find what we need, as soon as we have the means, we won't waste any time. We will go straight away." Many of these volunteers, though, are short on combat experience. (SOUNDBITE) (French) SIDI MOHAMED CISSE, LAWYER AND VOLUNTEER, "I have some experience but I've never been on the ground fighting, but I think it's not long now." Over 300,000 people have been forced from their homes since fighting errupted earlier this year. Andrew Raven, Reuters