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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs