DAKAR, March 8 (Reuters) – Liberia will sign off on a deal
giving oil major Exxon Mobil and its partner Canadian
Overseas Petroleum Limited rights to develop an offshore
oil block, a presidential spokeswoman said on Friday.
Landing the world’s largest private sector oil company will
add heft to Liberia’s nascent oil industry. The deal comes as
the impoverished West African state is seeking to overhaul its
petroleum policy and bolster transparency.
TIMBUKTU, Mali/BAMAKO (Reuters) – Cheering, grateful Malians mobbed French President Francois Hollande on Saturday as he visited French troops fighting Islamist jihadist rebels, and he pledged France would finish the job of restoring government control in the Sahel state.
In a one-day trip to Mali accompanied by his ministers for defense, foreign affairs and development, Hollande was hailed as a liberator in the ancient northern city of Timbuktu, which French and Malian forces retook from the rebels six days ago.
BAMAKO/TIMBUKTU, Mali (Reuters) – A French-led offensive against Islamists in Mali has led to civilian deaths from air strikes and ethnic reprisals by Malian troops, human rights groups said on Friday, a day before President Francois Hollande was due to visit the country.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch cited witness reports of extrajudicial killings by Malian government soldiers of dozens of civilians in the towns of Sevare and Konna. At least five civilians were killed in a helicopter attack on the first day of France’s military intervention, Amnesty also said.
BAMAKO/TIMBUKTU, Mali (Reuters) – Human rights groups said on Friday a French-led offensive against Islamists in Mali had led to civilian deaths in airstrikes and ethnic reprisals by Malian troops, a day before President Francois Hollande was due to visit the country.
France has deployed more than 3,500 ground forces in a lightning three-week campaign that has wrested control of northern Mali’s towns from an al Qaeda-linked alliance.
DOUENTZA, Mali/PARIS (Reuters) – French troops seized the airport in Mali’s northern town of Kidal, the last urban stronghold held by Islamist insurgents, as they moved to wrap up the first phase of a military operation to wrest northern Mali from rebel hands.
France has deployed some 4,500 troops in a three-week ground and air offensive to break the Islamist rebels’ 10-month grip on major northern towns. The mission is aimed at heading off the risk of Mali being used as a springboard for jihadist attacks in the wider region or Europe.
KONNA, Mali (Reuters) – Omar Sangare surveyed the wreckage in his hometown of Konna in central Mali, ravaged by battles between the army and Islamist rebels, and vowed his days of living peacefully with Arabs and Tuaregs were over.
“They are traitors,” said Sangare, a member of Mali’s black African majority, examining the rubble of a military base. “We saw our former neighbors, people who used to live here and run shops, among the attackers. How can we trust them now?”
DOUENTZA/GAO, Mali (Reuters) – French-backed Malian troops searched house-to-house in Gao and Timbuktu on Tuesday, uncovering arms and explosives abandoned by Islamist fighters, and France said it aimed to hand over longer-term security operations in Mali to an African force.
An 18-day offensive in France’s former West African colony has pushed the militants out of major towns and into desert and mountain hideouts to head off the risk of Mali being used as a springboard for jihadist attacks in the wider region or Europe.
DOUENTZA, Mali (Reuters) – The group of Islamist rebels occupying this dusty northern Malian town at the gateway to Timbuktu had been slaughtering a cow to eat at a small hotel.
The next instant, they were caught in an explosive blizzard of flying concrete and shrapnel.
DOUENTZA/GAO, Mali (Reuters) – French-backed Malian troops searched house-to-house in Gao and Timbuktu on Tuesday, uncovering arms and explosives abandoned by Islamist fighters, and France said it would look to hand over longer-term security operations to African troops.
French and Malian troops retook the two Saharan towns in northern Mali virtually unopposed at the weekend after an 18-day French-led offensive that has pushed back the al Qaeda-allied militants into hideouts in the deserts and mountains.
GAO/SEVARE, Mali (Reuters) – Residents of Mali’s northern town of Gao, captured from sharia-observing Islamist rebels by French and Malian troops, danced in the streets to drums and music on Sunday as the French-led offensive also drove the rebels from Timbuktu.
The weekend gains made at Gao and Timbuktu by the French and Malian troops capped a two-week whirlwind intervention by France in its former Sahel colony, which has driven al Qaeda-allied militant fighters northwards into the desert and mountains.