News / Europe

    French Soldier Dies in Mali as Paris Readies Counter-Insurgency Plan

    French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) and French Environment and Energy Minister Segolene Royal attend a session of questions to the government at the National Assembly, on May 07, 2014 in Paris.
    French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) and French Environment and Energy Minister Segolene Royal attend a session of questions to the government at the National Assembly, on May 07, 2014 in Paris.
    Reuters
    A French soldier has been killed in northern Mali as France prepares to deploy thousands of its troops across the region to better fight Islamist militancy, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday.
     
    The soldier, the eighth to die in Mali since France intervened in its former colony in January 2013 to oust al-Qaeda linked militants controlling the north of the country, was killed after an explosive device went off under his vehicle, he told RMC radio.
     
    Pockets of al-Qaida-linked fighters are still holding out across the north, more than a year after the French offensive aimed at driving them from the desert region they occupied for most of 2012 after hijacking a rebellion by Tuareg separatists.
     
    But after being scattered across Mali and into neighboring countries, they have now regrouped and stepped up operations in recent months, Le Drian said after announcing the death.
     
    “A certain stability was achieved across the south [of Mali], but in the north a certain number of jihadists have wanted to regroup,” he said. “They have nothing to lose. They will give up their life [for the cause].”
     
    Le Drian said France was restructuring its forces across West Africa for more counter-terrorism activities to target Islamist groups taking advantage of porous borders between southern Libya, northern Chad and northern Niger.
     
    “There will be 1,000 soldiers that remain in Mali, and 3,000 in the Sahel-Sahara zone, the danger zone, the zone of all types of smuggling,” he said. “We will stay as long as necessary. There is no fixed date.”

    Redeployed across region

    France is particularly worried by the situation in Libya where more than two-and-a-half years after the fall of former leader Moammer Gadhafi, the oil-rich North African state is struggling to contain violence between rival forces and Islamist militants are gaining ground in the south.
     
    French defense officials say the new phase in operations will allow their forces to operate freely across borders to strike militants. It was recently approved by the main countries concerned - Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso.
     
    French forces will now be based in four regional centers. Some will be in Gao in northern Mali, others Niger's capital Niamey, where French surveillance drones are based, and in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou, where until now special forces have launched raids into the desert.
     
    The fourth center will be in the Chadian capital N'Djamena, where the operations will be coordinated.
     
    Smaller bases to launch strikes are also being set up with Abidjan in the Ivory Coast as the mission's logistical hub.
     
    “This area is key to the security of African states,” Le Drian said. “But it is also for our own security. We have to prepare for the risks because they are very big and we see that again today with the death [of this soldier].”
     
    France, which also has more than 2,000 troops in Central African Republic, is sending about 10 intelligence experts to Nigeria to help find more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in April by Boko Haram.
     
    With thousands of troops in the region, Paris has a major interest in preventing Nigeria's security from deteriorating and has voiced concern Boko Haram could spread north into the Sahel.
     
    “We will provide our help to the Nigerian [intelligence] services to locate these girls are,” Le Drian said. “We have the means to do that and eventually to help bring them back.”

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora