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

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

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