Category Archives: France

Charlie Hebdo ‘claims’ another four lives – this time in Africa

A man holds a placard reading

Four people were killed in protests turned violent in Niger on Friday, after French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published more cartoon images of the Prophet Mohammad a week after Islamist gunmen shot dead 12 people at its offices in Paris. Protests also erupted in Pakistan and Algeria resulting in several injuries. Elsewhere, peaceful marches were held after Friday prayers in the capital cities of former French colonies Mali, Senegal and Mauritania. The Niger government said four were killed as police clashed with a crowd that attacked a French cultural centre and set churches ablaze. Protesters in the poor West African country’s second-largest city of Zinder in the south set French … Continue reading

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France embarks on major troop withdraw from Mali

France has begun a key stage of its military withdrawal from Mali, four months after sending troops to push Islamist rebels out from the north. A convoy of dozens of army trucks left a base outside the capital, Bamako, on its way south to Ivory Coast. Last month, France began withdrawing some of its 4,000 troops from the country. They plan to gradually hand over to the Malian army and a UN peacekeeping force, which will deploy in July ahead of planned nationwide elections. Saturday’s withdrawal comes just two days after Islamist rebels targeted an army barracks and French-run uranium mine in neighbouring Niger, killing 21 people. French Special Forces … Continue reading

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Malian army “poor, corrupt and barely functional” – French Col

Nearly three months since the European Union (EU) approved a 15-month training mission to rebuild a badly paid and poorly equipped Malian army, it remains poor, corrupt and barely functional, a French colonel said on Monday. The aim of the EU mission was to make the Malian army strong enough to fend off potential attacks by Islamist militants. But since this training commenced, corruption remains the rule in Malian ranks, soldiers are unable to train and some eight million euros ($10 million) pledged by international donors at a conference in Addis Ababa have not reached the army. “They’re managing misery.” Bruno Heluin, who runs training for Malian troops in the … Continue reading

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French hostage reportedly beheaded in Mali

A French hostage has been executed in Mali, a man claiming to be a spokesman for al-Qaeda in North Africa told Mauritania’s ANI news agency. A French foreign office spokesman said late on Tuesday that they were trying to verify the report of the killing of Philippe Verdon, who was kidnapped in November 2011, adding that “we don’t know at the moment” whether it is reliable. In what ANI reported was a telephone call to the agency, which has close links to rebels, the commander said Philippe Verdon had been beheaded on March 10 “in response to the French military intervention in the north of Mali”, ANI reported. Verdon was … Continue reading

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Suicide bombing & killing of civilians mar French efforts in Mali

French forces hunting Islamist rebels in northern Mali parachuted into a strategic town and took control on Friday, but a suicide bombing further south and the killing of two civilians by soldiers in the capital Bamako raised fresh security fears. In their hot pursuit of al Qaeda-allied militants in Mali’s remote Saharan northeast, French special forces seized the town and airfield of Tessalit, about 50 km (30 miles) from the Algerian border. It was the northernmost town secured so far by French and Chadian troops in their drive to flush retreating jihadist insurgents out of their hideouts in the Adrar des Ifoghas Mountains, where they are believed to hold French … Continue reading

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Sporadic fighting in Mali as UN weighs peacekeeping force

French-backed Malian forces are facing pockets of resistance in northern Mali, after retaking control of the region last month. VOA’s French to Africa Service reports a contingent of troops from France, Mali and Niger on Thursday forced a small group of Islamist militants from Djebock, a town 45 kilometers northeast of Gao. Residents said they were being ‘terrorized’ by the militants. In another development, four Malian soldiers were killed after their vehicle hit a landmine. The blast occurred Wednesday on a road between Gao and Douentza. As France begins to wind down its Mali intervention, the United Nations is considering plans to assume control of an international peacekeeping force in … Continue reading

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French planes pound Islamist camps in northern Mali desert

French warplanes pounded Islamist rebel camps in the far north of Mali, military sources said, hours after French President Francois Hollande visited the West African country. Thierry Burkhard, spokesman for the French army in Paris, said on Sunday the overnight raids targeted logistics bases and training camps used by the al Qaeda-linked rebels to the north of the desert town of Kidal. “These were important air strikes,” Burkhard told Reuters. He said the bombing raids took place around the settlement of Tessalit, close to the Algerian border, one of the main gateways into the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains where the rebels are believed to be hiding after fleeing major towns. … Continue reading

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French and Malian troops take Timbuktu as Africa folds hands

French and Malian troops were restoring government control over the fabled Saharan trading town of Timbuktu on Sunday, the latest gain in a fast-moving French-led offensive against al Qaeda-allied fighters occupying northern Mali. The Islamist militant rebels have pulled back northwards to avoid relentless French air strikes that have destroyed their bases, vehicles and weapons, allowing French and Malian troops to advance rapidly with air support and armoured vehicles. A Malian military source said the French and Malian forces reached “the gates of Timbuktu” late on Saturday without meeting resistance from the Islamist insurgents who had held the town since last year. The French and Malians controlled the airport and … Continue reading

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Morsi opposes French intervention in Mali but backs Algeria

Egypt’s Islamist president on Monday stated his opposition to France’s military intervention in Mali, saying its actions there would create a “new conflict hotspot” that separates the Arab north from its African neighbors to the south. Addressing the opening session of an Arab economic summit in Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Morsi also declared his support for Algeria against threats to its security — a reference to the takeover by Islamic militants of a gas complex last week in that nation’s remote southeast. Thirty-eight hostages and 29 militants died in the attack. The Masked Brigade, the group that claims to have masterminded the takeover, has warned of more such attacks against any … Continue reading

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