January 18th, 2013
07:34 PM ET

U.S. officials concerned over hostages

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the U.S. remains "deeply concerned" about the hostages still in danger at a gas field in Algeria. And she's already expressed her condolences to the families of those who have died.

But how many are dead and how many survived still isn't known, CNN’s Jill Dougherty reports.

January 18th, 2013
08:46 AM ET

France says cooperation on Mali crucial

By Jill Dougherty

In order for its offensive against Islamists in Mali to succeed, France needs the assistance of the United States and other countries, a French official told CNN.

"We really need the help of everybody and when countries such as Morocco and Algeria are opening their skies to our planes," the official said. "That's crucial because that's a mark of full solidarity for our mission - which is needed, it's really needed."

Mali was one of the most successful democracies in Africa until last year, when a coup toppled the president and Islamists capitalized on the chaos by establishing themselves in the north. There, they imposed a strict interpretation of Sharia law by banning music, smoking, drinking and watching sports on television. They also damaged Timbuktu's historic tombs and shrines.

The International Criminal Court has launched a war crimes investigation amid reports that residents have been mutilated and killed for disobeying the Islamists. The United Nations has noted accounts of amputations, floggings and public executions such as the July stoning of a couple who had reportedly had an affair.