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Mar 13, 2013

France, allies want special force for Mali U.N. mission

PARIS/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – France and its African allies want a heavily-armed force able to counter any resurgent Islamist threat in Mali as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission, diplomats said.

The United Nations is considering setting up a 10,000-strong force in the former French colony before presidential and legislative elections in July, a deadline a European diplomat described on Tuesday as “a race against time”.

Mar 12, 2013

Britain, France, push EU to drop Syria arms ban

LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) – Britain and France raised the pressure on other European Union members on Tuesday to lift a ban on supplying arms to Syria, where anti-government rebels are outgunned by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Britain warned that it could break with the embargo altogether, which requires unanimous agreement by the EU’s 27 members to take effect, while France hinted it would push to get the bloc to agree to amend the ban to allow the supply of arms.

Mar 12, 2013

France, allies want rapid-response force for Mali U.N. mission

PARIS/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – France and its African allies want a heavily armed force able to counter any resurgent Islamist threat in Mali as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission, diplomats said.

The United Nations is considering setting up a 10,000-strong force in the former French colony before presidential and legislative elections in July, a deadline a European diplomat described on Tuesday as “a race against time”.

Feb 28, 2013

Al Qaeda commander Abou Zeid killed in Mali – Algeria’s Ennahar TV

ALGIERS/DAKAR (Reuters) – French forces have killed Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, one of the most feared commanders of al Qaeda’s north Africa wing, during an operation against Islamist fighters in mountainous northern Mali, Algeria’s Ennahar television said on Thursday.

Abou Zeid was among 40 militants killed three days ago in the foothills of the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains near the Algerian border, said Ennahar, which is well connected with Algeria’s security services.

Feb 28, 2013

Al Qaeda commander Abou Zeid killed in Mali: Ennahar TV

ALGIERS/DAKAR (Reuters) – French forces have killed Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, one of the most feared commanders of al Qaeda’s north Africa wing (AQIM), during an operation against Islamist fighters in mountainous northern Mali, Algeria’s Ennahar television said on Thursday.

Abou Zeid was among 40 militants killed three days ago in the foothills of the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains near the Algerian border, said Ennahar, which is well connected with Algeria’s security services.

Feb 25, 2013

Islamists threaten to kill French kidnapped in Cameroon

DAKAR (Reuters) – Gunmen claiming to be from Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamist group threatened on Monday to kill a kidnapped French family of seven if authorities in Nigeria and Cameroon do not release Muslim militants held there.

French ministers said they believed the three adults and four children seized in Cameroon’s far north near the Nigerian border on Tuesday were being held by Boko Haram which has killed hundreds to try to carve out an Islamist state in Nigeria.

Feb 25, 2013

Video appears to show French family kidnapped in Cameroon

DAKAR (Reuters) – A video appearing to show seven French citizens, including four children, kidnapped in Cameroon last week was posted on the YouTube website on Monday.

“We have been taken by Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad,” one of the male hostages said in the video, referring to the name in Arabic of Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants. “They want the liberation of their brothers in Cameroon and their women imprisoned in Nigeria.”

Feb 19, 2013

French soldier killed in Mali, 20 rebels dead

PARIS/DAKAR (Reuters) – A French soldier and more than 20 Islamist rebels were killed during what appeared to be the first clashes in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountain range where militants have taken refuge in northern Mali, French officials said on Tuesday.

Speaking on a visit to Athens, French President Francois Hollande said serious fighting had broken out and was continuing in the remote area that straddles the Mali-Algeria border, resulting in several casualties among the rebels and one French legionnaire.

Feb 12, 2013

Libya needs help to secure borders: foreign minister

PARIS (Reuters) – Libya’s foreign minister called on Tuesday for Western and Arab allies to help seal his country’s borders to stop defeated Islamist rebels coming in from Mali and further destabilizing the strife-hit oil producer.

Tripoli’s government, already struggling to impose security two years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, is worried al Qaeda-linked fighters pushed out of Mali by a French-led offensive could seek refuge in its vast desert territory.

Feb 6, 2013

France wants U.N. peacekeeping force for Mali by April

PARIS (Reuters) – France wants the African-led military mission in Mali to be replaced with a United Nations peacekeeping mandate by April, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday.

Having swiftly seized the main towns in northern Mali from Islamist militias in a three-week campaign, France is keen not to get bogged down in a costly long-term deployment.