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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs