News / Africa

France Says its Journalists 'Coldly Assassinated' in Mali

Pictures of French RFI journalists, Ghislaine Dupont, right, and Claude Verlon on a poster headed Pictures of French RFI journalists, Ghislaine Dupont, right, and Claude Verlon on a poster headed "RFI and all France Media World in Mourning" displayed in a window in Paris, Nov. 3, 2013.
x
Pictures of French RFI journalists, Ghislaine Dupont, right, and Claude Verlon on a poster headed
Pictures of French RFI journalists, Ghislaine Dupont, right, and Claude Verlon on a poster headed "RFI and all France Media World in Mourning" displayed in a window in Paris, Nov. 3, 2013.
Reuters
France said on Sunday two French journalists found dead in the northern Mali region of Kidal had been “coldly assassinated” by militants and vowed to step up security measures in the area.

Radio journalists Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont were abducted after interviewing  a member of the MNLA Tuareg separatist group in northern Mali.

Their bodies were found on Saturday by a French patrol 12 km (8 miles) outside Kidal, the birthplace of a Tuareg uprising last year that plunged Mali into chaos, leading to a coup in the capital Bamako and the occupation of the northern half of the country by militants linked to al-Qaida.

Full details of why the journalists were killed and who carried out the attack were not immediately clear, but Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius put the blame firmly on militants operating in the region.

“The assassins are those that we are fighting, the terrorist groups that refuse democracy and elections,” Fabius said, calling the killings “heinous and revolting”.

Fabius said one of the journalists had been shot twice, and the other three times. He said French forces had tried to find the hostage takers, but to no avail.

Paris launched air strikes and sent thousands of soldiers into Mali at the start of the year to drive back al-Qaida-linked rebels it said could turn the West African country into a base for international attacks.

Although Malian, U.N. and French troops are stationed in Kidal, none are heavily deployed. The Malian army's contingent is generally symbolic and soldiers are confined to their base.

There are some 200 U.N. peacekeepers (MINUSMA)who are officially in control of security and France also has about 200 troops, though their operations in the region have focussed on the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains to the north, which served for years as a hideout for militants.

Gunmen roam Kidal

“Security in the area and the surrounding areas will be increased,” Fabius said, after a specially convened meeting between President Francois Hollande and key cabinet ministers. He did not elaborate.

Mali government spokesman Mahamane Baby echoes those comments saying President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Hollande had agreed that the status quo could not remain during a telephone call late on Saturday.

“The two heads of state agreed that the situation in Kidal was unacceptable and that a change was necessary to ensure the security of all Malians and foreigners present there,” he said.

According to the Ouagadougou agreement signed by Mali's government and rebel groups ahead of the July elections that aimed to pave the way for a peace deal across the country, rebel fighters were due to be confined to barracks before the new government launched a final round of peace talks.

However, MNLA fighters still operate in and around Kidal, much to the frustration of Bamako. A small contingent of Malian government troops is present in the town, though they are largely confined to barracks.

The journalists' deaths came just days after four French hostages kidnapped in Niger by al-Qaida's north African (AQIM) wing were released following secret talks with officials from the West African country. They had been held for three years.

Paris dismissed media reports the government had used public funds to pay a ransom of some $20 million.

Pierre Boilley, an Africa expert at the Center for National Scientic Research (CNRS), said the attack was likely to have been carried out by groups linked to AQIM or to a lesser degree people trying to undermine political talks between the central government and northern rebels.

“It could also have been vengeance. There are difficulties within AQIM. Some may have benefited from the hostages' ransom, and others may have been neglected so it's a possible hypothesis,” he said.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More