France Has Opened Gates of Hell in Mali, Islamist Tells Europe1

France’s government has opened the “gates of hell” with its intervention in Mali, an Islamist militant leader told a French radio station.

France “has fallen into a trap much more dangerous than Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia,” Oumar Hamaha, known as “Red Beard” for his hennaed facial hair, told Europe1 today. “And it’s only started.”

French air and ground forces have been carrying out attacks since Jan. 11 to beat back militants in the north of Mali who went on the offensive last week. Hamaha is the militants’ spokesman.

“The Mirages that bombed Gao were 13,000 meters up,” he said. “Come down to earth if you are men. We’ll receive them with open arms.”

France’s interior minister said yesterday that security forces are increasing patrols at airports and train stations.

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