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Dec 16, 2014

Threatened African nations urge western action on Libya crisis

DAKAR, Dec 16 (Reuters) – African leaders on Tuesday urged
western nations to act to resolve the crisis in Libya which has
sent shock waves across the vast arid Sahel band and threatened
to destabilise fragile regional governments.

More than three years after a French-led NATO military
action helped oust Libya’s longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, two
rival governments are competing for legitimacy, raising fears of
a civil war for control over the country’s oil wealth.

Dec 16, 2014

France tries to rally mistrustful African states against Boko Haram

DAKAR (Reuters) – France will step in to help coordinate a regional taskforce against Nigeria’s Islamist group Boko Haram, amid signs of mistrust among West African neighbors, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday.

Boko Haram has stepped up attacks across much of Nigeria’s north ahead of presidential elections in February. Their operations have spilled over Nigeria’s borders into Niger to the north and Cameroon to the east, and stirred fears that Chad could be dragged into the conflict.

Dec 15, 2014

France urges closer regional collaboration against Nigeria’s Boko Haram

DAKAR (Reuters) – France’s defense minister on Monday called for Nigeria and its neighbors to set up a military liaison committee to better coordinate their response to the growing regional threat posed by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

Nigeria’s Boko Haram fighters have stepped up their attacks across much of the country’s north in the past year, raiding villages, kidnapping children and seizing territory for their declared caliphate.

Dec 15, 2014

U.N. says forces in Sudan’s Darfur won’t leave amid rising violence

DAKAR (Reuters) – A joint United Nations-African Union (UNAMID) peacekeeping mission in Darfur is unlikely to bow to Sudan’s request to leave the region when the situation there appears to be worsening, the head of the U.N. peacekeeping forces said on Monday.

Sudan said last month it had asked UNAMID to prepare an exit plan, days after denying peacekeepers permission to pay a second visit to the site of alleged mass rapes by Sudanese soldiers in the Darfur village of Tabit.

Dec 15, 2014

U.N. brigade will need to ‘neutralise’ Congo rebels: chief

DAKAR (Reuters) – Only a few of Rwanda’s FDLR rebels operating in eastern Congo have laid down their arms before a January deadline, meaning that U.N. troops will launch operations against the group next month, the U.N.’s peacekeeping chief said on Monday.

Herve Ladsous said that the U.N.’s Democratic Republic of Congo’s mission, MONUSCO, was also involved in an offensive to pick off the last remaining elements of Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) Islamist rebels, which also operate in Congo’s lawless east.

Dec 15, 2014

France urges African nations to take charge of their security

DAKAR (Reuters) – France urged African nations on Monday to step up cross-border cooperation to tackle security challenges from Islamist groups in southern Libya to Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, as it seeks to scale back its military commitments on the continent.

Amid budgetary pressures at home, France is looking to reduce security commitments in Africa. It is scaling back the 2,000 troops it deployed a year ago to curb Christian-Muslim violence in Central African Republic, a former colony.

Dec 15, 2014

U.N. Sahel envoy says Libya turmoil could destabilize neighbors

DAKAR (Reuters) – The United Nations special envoy to the Sahel region said on Monday talks to resolve a crisis in Libya had stalled and warned several countries in the region risked being destabilized unless it was resolved quickly.

Hiroute Gebre Selassie said instability in the Sahel region south of the Sahara desert had worsened due to the fragile state of regional governments and expansion of Islamist militants.

Dec 11, 2014

French forces in Mali kill Islamist on U.S. wanted list

PARIS (Reuters) – French forces in northern Mali have killed a senior commander of the al Mourabitoun Islamist group who was wanted by the United States, a defense ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

The United States had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Ahmed al Tilemsi, who took part in the 2011 kidnapping of two French nationals in Niger and three aid workers in Algeria later that year.

Dec 10, 2014

Corrected – Last French hostage freed by Al Qaeda’s north African arm

PARIS/NIAMEY (Reuters) – (Corrects location of press conference in par 3 to presidency)

Serge Lazarevic, a Frenchman who was kidnapped in northern Mali and was France’s last hostage abroad, has been freed after being held by al Qaeda’s North African wing for nearly three years.

Dec 9, 2014

Last French hostage freed by Al Qaeda’s north African arm

PARIS/NIAMEY (Reuters) – Serge Lazarevic, a Frenchman who was kidnapped in northern Mali and was France’s last hostage abroad, has been freed after being held by al Qaeda’s North African wing for nearly three years.

The freeing of France’s last hostage is a boost for President Francois Hollande but questions linger over a reported prisoner exchange and a possible ransom payment that led to Lazarevic being freed by the Sahara-based group.