February 7, 2013 2:58 PM

Islamist retreat in Mali was orderly, witnesses say, suggesting force will return to fight again

One day in early January from her home in the middle of the Sahara Desert, Rakia Wallet al Hamdou watched as a hoard of Islamist rebels pulled out of the town of Kidal on what would turn out to be a surprise offensive into central Mali. When they returned in a trail of dust more than two weeks later, this time in retreat, their numbers had swelled. Then, they disappeared again.

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