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    Mali, French Governments Condemn Killing of French Journalists



    The Malian government has condemned the killing of two French journalists who had been kidnapped in the country's north.

    Malian government spokesman Mahamane Baby said the government condemned the "barbaric and cowardly" act in the strongest of terms.

    Earlier, French President Francois Hollande called the killing "despicable" and expressed "indignation" after the murders were confirmed.

    Unidentified gunmen kidnapped the male and the female journalist shortly after they finished interviewing an official with the MNLA separatist group in the city of Kidal.

    The Executive Director of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, says the journalists were seized by four men who forced them to get into a truck. He says the kidnappers then took them roughly 15 kilometers away from the town center of Kidal and riddled their bodies with bullets.

    A VOA reporter in Kidal said French troops in helicopters had launched a search for the abductors.

    The two slain journalists worked for Radio France Internationale .



    Four French men were freed earlier this week after being held hostage for more than three years by al-Qaida-linked militants in neighboring Niger.

    The French nationals were captured by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in September 2010, while they were working for the French nuclear firm Areva.

    Kidal is the stronghold for the MNLA, which has been fighting for an independent Tuareg state in northern Mali.

    The group took control of Kidal after French and African forces drove Islamist militants out of the region earlier this year.

    Last month, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita cut short a trip to France after fighting erupted between Malian soldiers and MNLA rebels in Kidal.

    Tensions have been high in the city since MNLA separatists pulled out of a peace process in September, saying the government was not living up to the terms of a cease-fire deal signed in June.

    Mr. Keita's government has been trying to restore order after 21 months of turmoil that included an ethnic Tuareg uprising, a coup, and the Islamist militant takeover of northern Mali.

    Earlier this year, France led an offensive in Mali to drive al-Qaida-linked militants from the country's north.

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