Emmanuel Macron vows to 'eradicate' Mali kidnappers of Sophie Petronin

03 July, 2017, 01:36 | Author: Ora Austin
  • Mali: Macron in Mali Sunday for Launch of Sahel Anti-Terror Force

Serge Michailof, a researcher at the French Institute for worldwide and Strategic Affairs (IRIS), criticized the European Union contribution as "a joke" given what he called the bloc's "very deep pockets" and the poverty of the Sahel countries.

France is to offer "advice, material and combat", Macron said.

Emmanuel Macron has been president of France for just two months - and already has made his second visit to Mali, where French troops and United Nations peacekeepers are fighting armed groups. Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop put the figure at $450 million.

The five African countries, which make up so called G5 Sahel, have pledged to to fight al-Qaeda-linked groups and others in the region who have alarmed the global community after launching deadly attacks in recents months on areas that were once considered relatively safe.

"Every day we must combat terrorists, thugs, murderers whose names and faces we must forget, but whom we must steadfastly and with determination eradicate together", said Macron at the summit in Mali's capital Bamako.

The Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen group recently claimed responsibility.

Islamist militants operating in Mali released a video purporting to show six western hostages, ahead of a regional security summit in the West African country attended by France's president today.

With its military headquarters in the northern Mali town of Sevare, the G5 Sahel force will focus on three border zones - one along the frontier between Niger and Mali, another between Mali and Mauritania, and a third straddling the borders between Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.

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France intervened to chase out jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda who had overtaken key northern cities in Mali in 2013.

That mission evolved into the current Barkhane deployment launched in 2014 with an expanded mandate for "counter-terror" operations across the Sahel.

The main area of operation will be the border area of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, where French troops this year killed at least 20 suspected militants hiding in a forest.

President Emmanuel Macron visited Mali in May, his first foreign visit as president outside Europe.

He said the force, which is expected to consist of around 5000 troops, needed to be fully operational by this autumn.

Despite heavy initial criticism, that force "has succeeded in a part of its mission, which is to reduce the territory controlled by Boko Haram and limit its actions", said Rinaldo Depagne from the International Crisis Group, a non-governmental organisation that works on conflict resolution.

Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger have deployed around 4100 soldiers within MINUSMA.

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