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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs