Posts Tagged ‘Mali’

Mali: Death Toll After Car Bombing At Military Center Rises to 50 — “Death Toll Could Go Higher”

January 18, 2017

GAO, Mali — A suicide bomber in an explosives-laden vehicle attacked a camp in northern Mali on Wednesday, killing more than 50 people and wounding more than 100 soldiers and former fighters now trying to stabilize the region.

Suspicion quickly fell on the Islamic extremist groups operating in the area which oppose the 2015 peace agreement that brought the parties together. A Mauritanian news agency that frequently receives communications from extremist groups, Alakhbar, said a group linked to al-Qaida’s North Africa branch, al-Mourabitoun, had claimed responsibility.

The attack marks a significant setback for efforts to achieve peace in the long-tumultuous region. The U.N. Security Council was expected to discuss Mali on Wednesday.

The morning blast hit the Joint Operational Mechanism base in the city of Gao, home to Malian soldiers and hundreds of former fighters who had signed the peace agreement with the government.

Dismembered bodies could still be seen two hours after the blast.

Soldiers attending to wounded and casualties in the aftermath of the suicide bomb attack

The attack targeted soldiers and members of rival armed groups who conduct regular patrols in a bid to secure northern Mali. AFP photo

A Malian military official, Col. Mohamed Ould, put the death toll at more than 50, with more than 100 others wounded. A government statement later said 47 had been killed, including five attackers, and called the toll provisional.

Dr. Sadou Maiga at Gao’s hospital told The Associated Press that all other hospital activities have ceased with dozens of wounded victims arriving.

“Some have died from their wounds, and others are in a very grave state,” he said. “At this point, it’s not the toll of dead and injured that interests me, it’s saving who I can.”

Witnesses said the car bearing explosives breached the camp at around 9 a.m., just as hundreds of fighters were gathering for a meeting.

The suicide bomber “succeeded in tricking soldiers’ vigilance” and penetrated the camp, said an army spokesman, Col. Diarran Kone.

Gao in northern Mali was at the cradle of rebel uprisings and a sanctuary for Islamist fighters.

Wednesday’s attack underscores the enormous challenges that remain in northern Mali four years after the French military led an intervention to drive the jihadists from power in the major towns across the north. The peace agreement has proved difficult to implement and unpopular with the forces wreaking havoc in the region.

“If the security situation continues to deteriorate, then soon there won’t be any peace to keep in Mali,” U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the U.N. Security Council. He said attacks are becoming more sophisticated, and he reminded the council that it has the power to impose “targeted measures” against those who violate the cease-fire. He said rivalry among armed groups continues to slow implementation of the peace deal.

The former fighters who signed the 2015 peace deal include ethnic Tuareg secular rebels who once fought the Malian military. Now they are supposed to be forming joint patrols in the area, though the program has yet to begin.

Mali has become the world’s deadliest U.N. peacekeeping mission. Some 29 U.N. peacekeepers were killed last year in attacks blamed on jihadist armed groups, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Wednesday.

The report details how extremists are extending their reach further into central Mali, trying to implement their strict interpretation of Shariah law and pressuring families to give up their children as soldiers for the cause.

The report also denounces rising levels of banditry, a phenomenon victims say is fueled by the slow implementation of the 2015 peace accord.

Malian Security Minister Salif Traore declined to respond to the report’s specifics but said he is well aware of security challenges throughout the region.

At the United Nations, Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop said the “criminal, cowardly, barbaric attack” will not deter the government from moving forward to promote peace.

French President Francois Hollande, who visited a French military base in Gao just a few days ago, condemned the attack “in the strongest terms” and reiterated France’s support for Mali’s peace process.

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Associated Press writers Baba Ahmed in Port-Gentil, Gabon, Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, Sylvie Corbet in Paris and Robbie Corey-Boulet in Abidjan, Ivory Coast contributed to this report.

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At Least 67 Killed in Car Bomb Attack in Mali

 Mali soldiers patrol northern Mali.
 Mali soldiers patrol northern Mali. | Photo: AFP
Published 18 January 2017
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Witnesses said the powerful blast covered the city of Goa in a dust cloud, forcing evacuations.

At least 67 people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack on a military barracks in the north of Mali on Wednesday, medical sources told EFE.

The source said the death toll was subject to change as there were many people injured in the attack.

According to preliminary information, the assailant detonated a car bomb in the northern city of Gao while entering barracks where hundreds of Malian soldiers and affiliated fighters had gathered.

A military force in Gao contacted by EFE said military sources did not rule out the possibility of subsequent attacks as the assailants took advantage of the pandemonium.

No group has yet claimed the attack, which was one of the most bloody registered in an unstable country where violence is constant.

The United Nations Security Council is to analyze a report on Wednesday on the current situation in the country which highly concerns the international community.

Gao, one of the most insecure areas in the country, is not under central government control, allowing several Islamist militant groups to operate and commit frequent attacks against Army and United Nations forces.

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/At-Least-67-Killed-in-Car-Bomb-Attack-in-Mali–20170118-0031.html

Mali: Car Bomb Explosion Kills 25 People — Many wounded at military facility in Gao

January 18, 2017

Reuters

Twenty-five people were killed and others were injured when a vehicle packed with explosives detonated on Wednesday at a military camp in Mali’s northern city of Gao, according to a provisional death toll announced by the army.

The camp was housing government soldiers as well as members of various rival armed groups, who together conduct mixed patrols in line with a U.N.-brokered peace accord aimed at quelling violence in Mali’s restive desert north.

(Reporting by Adama Diarra; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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African leaders vow to end conflict across Africa

2017-01-16 17:00

Bamako – African leaders at the just ended 27th edition of the France-Africa summit in Mali have reportedly vowed to end conflicts across the continent.

The two-day summit, themed “Partnership, Peace and Emergence”, was held last week and was aimed at strengthening ties between France and African countries.

At least 30 countries attended.

According to Lusaka Times, the African leaders noted that conflicts continued to cause under-development across Africa, adding that the conflicts had taken up huge resources which could be channelled to other key economic development.

Zambia’s minister of foreign affairs Harry Kalaba said that Africa needed to address issues causing conflicts and instability in order to “realise its dream of becoming a peaceful and prosperous continent by 2063”.

The summit also called for collective action against trafficking of human beings, migrants and drugs in order to dry up illicit financing of terrorism.

 http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/african-leaders-vow-to-end-conflict-20170116

Frenchwoman Abducted in Mali — Sophie Petronin was abducted while running an aid froup that helps children suffering from malnutrition

December 25, 2016

AFP

© AFP/File | Soldiers of the Barhkane operation stand next to debris following a suicide car bomb attack at the airport of Gao on November 30, 2016

PARIS (AFP) – A Frenchwoman who runs an aid group has been kidnapped in Mali’s restive north, the French foreign ministry confirmed on Sunday.

Sophie Petronin was abducted in the city of Gao on Saturday, the ministry said, adding that French and Malian authorities were working together “to find and free our compatriot as quickly as possible”.

Petronin was the director of a non-governmental organisation that helps children suffering from malnutrition, the ministry said, adding that officials were in contact with her family.

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Malian officials had on Saturday reported the kidnapping of a woman with French and Swiss nationality in Gao, but there was as yet no confirmation that Petronin held dual citizenship.

“We immediately launched a search,” a Malian security source said Saturday on condition of anonymity, without revealing the victim’s identity or how she was abducted.

Northern Mali fell to jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda from March 2012. These forces were driven out of key towns by a French-led military intervention the following year.

Barely a week goes by without attacks on security forces despite a peace pact signed last year following lengthy negotiations between the government, groups backing it and ethnic Tuareg rebels. Kidnappings, however, are rare.

‘Wake Up, America, the War Is Here’ — “We haven’t yet seen an Episcopalian suicide bomber” — Pros and Cons of Fighting The Ideology — “This is a war on our culture”

June 13, 2016

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Dr. Sebastian Gorka. Screengrab

As the connection between the Orlando nightclub mass shooting and radical Islam becomes clearer, Dr. Sebastian Gorka says it’s time for all Americans – particularly President Obama – to recognize the threat posed by jihadists.

“In the past 15 years, we haven’t seen an Episcopalian suicide bomber. We haven’t seen Zoroastrian mass murderers. We’ve seen Muslim extremists,” Gorka said. “If you deny that, you are in a fantasy land, and you’re endangering American citizens.”

“It’s time to wake up, America. The war is here.”

Dr. Gorka says we must name the ideology and face it fully.

Includes video:

http://insider.foxnews.com/2016/06/12/sebastian-gorka-orlando-shooting-radical-islamic-terrorism

Dr. Gorka called President Obama’s Sunday, June 12, 2016 remarks on the Orlando shooting “pablum.”

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What ISIS Really Wants

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.

By GRAEME WOOD
The Atlantic
March 2015

What is the Islamic state?

Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.

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Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims. Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.

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Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe, and since men stopped dying in large numbers because of arcane theological disputes. Hence, perhaps, the incredulity and denial with which Westerners have greeted news of the theology and practices of the Islamic State. Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest.

Their skepticism is comprehensible. In the past, Westerners who accused Muslims of blindly following ancient scriptures came to deserved grief from academics—notably the late Edward Said—who pointed out that calling Muslims “ancient” was usually just another way to denigrate them. Look instead, these scholars urged, to the conditions in which these ideologies arose—the bad governance, the shifting social mores, the humiliation of living in lands valued only for their oil.

Without acknowledgment of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete. But focusing on them to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.

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“Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”

(Bernard Haykel is a Princeton scholar and the leading expert on the Islamic State’s theology.)

“People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.”

“What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts,” Haykel said. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have.”

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the caliphate has continued to embrace slavery and crucifixion without apology. “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” Adnani, the spokesman, promised in one of his periodic valentines to the West. “If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”

In October, Dabiq, the magazine of the Islamic State, published “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,” an article that took up the question of whether Yazidis (the members of an ancient Kurdish sect that borrows elements of Islam, and had come under attack from Islamic State forces in northern Iraq) are lapsed Muslims, and therefore marked for death, or merely pagans and therefore fair game for enslavement. A study group of Islamic State scholars had convened, on government orders, to resolve this issue. If they are pagans, the article’s anonymous author wrote,

Yazidi women and children [are to be] divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations [in northern Iraq] … Enslaving the families of the kuffar[infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Koran and the narrations of the Prophet … and thereby apostatizing from Islam.

Read it all:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/

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By Michael Danti

Daesh’s rapidly expanding footprint occasioned the antithesis of cultural property protection—an overt and systematic campaign of cultural cleansing targeting both the past and present over vast swathes of the Middle East. While all of the conflict’s major belligerents have been complicit in, or have committed cultural property crimes, none approach the barbarity of Daesh, and most autochthonous forces also engage in, or facilitate cultural property protection. Surveying the devastation wrought across large parts of the Middle East and North Africa over the last five years, it is no exaggeration to rank the current crisis as the greatest cultural heritage challenge since World War II.

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Daesh social media, internet and print propaganda instill in its audiences reassurances that the organization has adapted to address past violent jihadist failures, particularly the supposed impurities inherent in secularism. Daesh alleges to comprehend the root causes of purported stasis, inequities and discord affecting global Islam and proffers prescriptive measures. The core message evokes a shared notion of a modern, cohesive community engendered by an idealized seventh century past. Strict adherence to this doctrine through systematic cultural cleansing will open the gates to earthly and heavenly paradise. Daesh’s essentialist epistemology runs as follows: we are the true believers and heirs of the Prophet through emulation, founders of a legitimate caliphate, justified in our actions—submit or perish.

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Cultural heritage experts have been sounding the alarm regarding recent developments with good reason. A destructive dialectic prevails in which cultural diversity and heritage are increasingly perceived as optimal targets for expressions of widespread rage and frustration. It behooves us to reappraise our often-outmoded approaches to cultural property protection and international heritage management, particularly the unpredictable outcomes of heritagization. Daesh will be defeated, but the organization’s radical ideology will likely endure and metathesize. We can and must expect the continued deliberate targeting of cultural assets and diversity based on the lessons of Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Mali, Libya and other conflict zones. The prevalence of radical non-state actors requires new nimble, coordinated and proactive responses. I firmly believe anthropologists are ideally suited to meeting the wide-ranging exigencies of such crises and countering the deleterious effects of these escalating wars on culture.

Source: http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2016/04/19/islamic-state-ideology-and-cultural-cleansing/

Amid Europe’s migration crisis, EU Announces Plan to Increase limits for legal immigration — More than 10,000 people have died crossing the Mediterranean to Europe

June 8, 2016

By CHARLIE MOORE FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 13:56 EST, 7 June 2016 | UPDATED: 18:05 EST, 7 June 2016

Europe’s plans to deal with the migration crisis include increasing the limits for legal immigration from Africa with easier visa access for certain countries.

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Five African states – Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Ethiopia – will be targeted to curtail migration and incentives may also include preferential trade terms.

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The European Commission today proposed a revamp of its Blue Card work permit scheme to expand legal immigration options for skilled workers and support for EU governments to give migrants training and other help to integrate in Europe.

Europe's plans to deal with the migration crisis include increasing the limits for legal immigration from Africa with easier visa access for certain countries. Pictured: African migrants on a boat

Europe’s plans to deal with the migration crisis include increasing the limits for legal immigration from Africa with easier visa access for certain countries. Pictured: African migrants on a boat

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The aim is to reduce the incentive for people to try to smuggle themselves into the continent illegally on flimsy boats and put their lives at risk.

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‘If we ever want to compete with the US Green Card, we need an EU Blue Card that deserves the same merit,’ Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said.

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The proposals will require detailed discussion and approval by EU governments and the parliament.

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Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Manfred Weber, conservative leader of the biggest party in the EU legislature, welcomed a move to ‘speak clearly’ to Africa and warned of ‘trade consequences’ for states that do not cooperate.

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But he cautioned on expanding the Blue Card scheme, saying the priority must be jobs for Europeans before immigrants.

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The Commission said some eight billion euros was on offer over five years for aid targeted at giving Africans more incentive to stay at home, though much of that must come from EU states and much is money already promised.

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‘We propose to use a mix of positive and negative incentives to reward those third countries willing to cooperate effectively with us and to ensure that there are consequences for those who do not,’ Frans Timmermans, the deputy head of the European Commission, told the chamber.

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Timmermans noted the deal he has negotiated with Turkey to staunch flows of Syrian refugees and other migrants to Greek islands – a deal achieved by offering Ankara financial and diplomatic concessions and criticised by human rights groups – and said there was a need to curb renewed crossings from North Africa to Italy, which have claimed nearly 3,000 lives.

Five African states - Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Ethiopia - will be targeted to curtail migration and incentives may include preferential trade terms and easier visa access to the EU. Pictured: A sinking migrants' boat near Libya

Five African states – Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Ethiopia – will be targeted to curtail migration and incentives may include preferential trade terms and easier visa access to the EU. Pictured: A sinking migrants’ boat near Libya

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3629991/Europe-reveals-plan-deal-migration-crisis-INCREASE-limits-legal-immigration-Africa.html#ixzz4AzGP8qGk
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‘We must do the same that we have done on the route through the Aegean also in the southern Mediterranean to find solutions, sustainable solutions,’ the former Dutch foreign minister said.

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His Commission colleague, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, dismissed a suggestion from Libya’s fragile, U.N.-backed government that Brussels might pressure Libyans to take back migrants who set sail from its coast, as Turkey now does.

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Europe’s plan was to get irregular migrants from Africa who do not qualify for asylum back to their home countries, she said, noting that few Libyans themselves make the crossing.

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Jordan and Lebanon in the Middle East, the main hosts along with Turkey of Syrian refugees, would be priority recipients of help under the EU’s new migration ‘compacts’, which the Commission said aimed to leverage EU funding with private investments that could reach tens of billions of euros.

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MIGRANT DEATHS IN MEDITERRANEAN ‘HIT 10,000’

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More than 10,000 people have died crossing the Mediterranean to Europe since 2014, the UN said Tuesday, as the EU unveiled fresh plans to stem the migrant flow from Africa.

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Following a rash of deadly shipwrecks in recent weeks which claimed the lives of hundreds of people, the UN refugee agency said the number of deaths at sea had risen sharply this year, with a record 2,814 people drowning since January.

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And over the past few days, the overall number who have died since the start of 2014 has reached 10,085, the UNHCR said on Tuesday.

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With Europe in the grip of its worst migrant crisis since World War II, the rising death toll has prompted urgent efforts to tackle the problem, with Brussels seeking ways to clamp down on the Africa route from after a deal with Ankara in March slashed numbers trying to cross from Turkey.

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‘We cannot tolerate the loss of life on this scale, we need to do everything to stop it,’ European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans said.

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Breaking down the figures, the UN said a total of 3,771 had died at sea in 2015 and 3,500 the year earlier, plus this year’s deaths.

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‘You’ve now had since the start of 2014 – when this phenomenon of rising numbers across the Mediterranean happened – 10,000 deaths,’ UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said.

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‘This is clearly an appalling number of deaths that have occurred in the Mediterranean, just on Europe’s borders just in the past couple of years,’ he added.

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More than one million migrants and refugees made the journey to Europe in 2015, the majority fleeing war in Syria and the Middle East, and a further 204,000 have come since January, the UNHCR says.

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The vast majority have died on crossings between Libya and Italy, as a controversial March deal between the EU and Turkey designed to halt the flow of largely Syrian migrants using the popular Aegean route has led to a sharp drop in arrivals.

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The EU’s top court meanwhile ruled that countries cannot imprison illegal migrants just for crossing borders in the Schengen passport-free area, in a new blow to efforts to crack down on the crisis.

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The ruling came in the case of a Ghanaian woman, Selina Affum, who was jailed by French police at the Channel Tunnel while on a bus from Belgium to Britain using someone else’s passport.

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The Schengen passport-free area of 26 European countries has come under severe pressure from the migration crisis, with many countries bringing back border controls that were dismantled a decade ago.

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French President Hollande: Boko Haram Still a Dangerous Threat Despite Gains

May 14, 2016

AFP

© Pool/AFP | French President Francois Hollande and Central African Republic President Faustin Touadera visit the KM5 area of the CAR capital Bangui on May 13, 2016

ABUJA (AFP) – Boko Haram remain a threat despite “impressive” military gains against it, French President Francois Hollande said on Saturday, as regional and Western leaders gathered for talks on the Islamist threat.

“The results (of the counter-insurgency) are impressive” and the rebels had been “diminished and forced to retreat”, he told a news conference in Abuja but added: “This terrorist group nevertheless remains a threat.”

© AFP/File | A Malian police officer stands guard as workers clean up ouside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 22, 2015, two days after a deadly attack

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A screen grab made Tuesday from a video shows Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, delivering a message.  

A screen grab made from a video shows Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, delivering a message. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Germany to increase troops for first time since Cold War ended

May 10, 2016

AFP

© AFP/File | The Bundeswehr is expected to increase in the next seven years by 14,300 soldiers

BERLIN (AFP) – Germany is raising the number of its troops for the first time since 1990, ending a quarter of a century of successive cuts in the army since the end of the Cold War.The Bundeswehr is expected to increase in the next seven years by 14,300 soldiers, while 4,400 civilian officers will also be added to the service, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.

This boost in troop strength is “necessary given the current situation” of increasing tensions with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, as well as several foreign missions undertaken by the army, she said.

Germany is preparing to join efforts to bolster NATO’s presence on its eastern flank bordering Russia, in a bid to reassure east European alliance members rattled by Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

The Bundeswehr has also deployed troops to Mali as part of a UN mission to monitor a peace deal between the government and northern rebels in the west African country.

It has also joined an international coalition battling IS jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

German soldiers totalled 178,000 last December, hovering close to the cap of 185,000 imposed since 2011.

The army has seen a significant reduction in troop numbers since Germany’s reunification and after the Cold War.

In 1990, the number of soldiers reached 585,000.

Berlin’s latest announcement also appeared to be an answer to a repeated call by the United States for NATO members to stump up more in defence spending.

US President Barack Obama made the plea in April during his visit to Germany, where he also berated Europe for having “sometimes been complacent about its own defence”.

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Mali reports arrest of suspect in hotel and restaurant attacks

April 22, 2016

REUTERS and AFP

© STRINGER / AFP | An image obtained by AFP on April 21, 2016 shows Fawaz Ould Ahmeida, suspected of planning and carrying out a string of deadly attacks in Mali in 2015, after his arrest on the same day in Bamako.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2016-04-22

Authorities in Mali said on Friday they had arrested a member of a group linked to al Qaeda that has claimed responsibility for attacks that killed dozens in Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

Fawaz Ould Ahmed was captured by security and intelligence services in Bamako on Thursday as he was preparing to carry out another attack, said security ministry spokesman Amadou Sangho.

“We found him with grenades and a small suitcase containing weapons. He was behind the attacks on the Radisson, the Hotel Nord Sud, the La Terrasse restaurant and the Hotel Byblos,” he said.

He said Ould Ahmed was a member of al Mourabitoun, a militant group allied to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Beginning with an attack on La Terrasse in Bamako in March last year that killed five people, the two groups have teamed up to target civilians at locations frequented by westerners.

Seventeen people died in the attack on the Hotel Byblos in the town of Sevare in August and 20 in the November raid on the luxury Radisson Blu in the capital.

Attacks on a restaurant in neighbouring Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou and a beach resort town in Ivory Coast in January and March of this year left dozens more dead.

There were no casualties in last month’s attack on Bamako’s Hotel Nord Sud, which serves as the headquarters of the European Union’s military training mission in Mali.

Al Mourabitoun and AQIM claimed responsibility for all the attacks, but Sangho only linked Ould Ahmed to attacks inside Mali.

Islamist violence is on the rise across West Africa despite a 2013 French-led military intervention that sought to drive militants out of northern Mali, which they had seized a year earlier.

Before Ould Ahmed’s capture, Malian officials had claimed to have arrested a number of suspected militants over the past month, who they say organised or carried out the assaults.

“(Ould Ahmed) could have even carried out an operation this Friday. So it’s a big win for the DGSE (intelligence service) which has arrested five terrorist bosses in less than four weeks,” an intelligence officer said, asking not to be named.

Some experts question the importance of the recent arrests. Contacted by Reuters, five academics who focus on Islamist militant groups in the region said they had never heard of Ould Ahmed.

(REUTERS)

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Mali arrests suspected mastermind of Radisson hotel attack

April 22, 2016

AFP

© AFP/File | A Malian police officer stands guard as workers clean up ouside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on November 22, 2015, two days after a deadly attack

BAMAKO (AFP) – A Mauritanian man suspected of planning and carrying out a string of deadly attacks on sites popular with foreigners in Mali last year has been arrested in Bamako, security sources said Friday.

Arrested on Thursday, the man is believed to have taken part in an attack on a bar in Bamako in March 2015, the sources said.

He is also suspected of planning the deadly assaults on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in November and the Byblos hotel in central Mali in August.

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1st arrests after bloody attack on Mali luxury hotel

BAMAKO, Mali — Malian special forces have arrested two men over last week’s attack on a luxury hotel in the capital that killed 19 people, according to a statement distributed Friday morning.

The statement identified the two men, both arrested in Bamako, but provided no other details on their background or their potential roles in the attack.

“Questioning of these suspects will shed more light on the motivations of the perpetrators of the sordid terrorist attack perpetrated” at the Radisson Blu hotel on Nov. 20, said the statement sent by army Maj. Modibo Naman Traore.

Two gunmen armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and explosives stormed the hotel before 7 a.m. on Nov. 20, striking just as security guards were about to change shifts. After shooting four of the five guards, killing one, they fired wildly in the lobby and breakfast dining area before heading to the hotel’s upper floors.

Malian troops, backed by French and American special forces, swarmed in to retake the building and free terrified guests and hotel staff during a siege that lasted more than seven hours.

The gunmen were killed at the scene, and on Monday state media broadcast their photos, asking anyone with information about them to come forward.

The attack has been claimed by the Al-Mourabitoun extremist group, which said it had cooperated with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and the Macina Liberation Front, a group active in central Mali that said it had worked with yet another militant group, Ansar Dine.

On Sunday, Al-Mourabitoun issued a statement purporting to identify the gunmen, using names suggesting they were Malian, but authorities have yet to confirm their identities.

The 19 dead included an American aid worker, three senior officials with a Chinese railway company and six employees of a Russian cargo company in addition to three hotel employees.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mali-arrests-2-over-terror-attack-on-bamako-radisson-blu-hotel/

Protests against French forces in Mali turn deadly

April 18, 2016

AFP and Reuters

© Philippe Desmazes, AFP | French soldiers patrol near Timbuktu in northern Mali in June 2015

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2016-04-18

Demonstrators stormed an airport runway in northern Mali on Monday to protest against arrests by French forces of people suspected of links to Islamist militants who operate in the region, local officials and witnesses said.

Security forces fired warning shots and teargas to deter the mostly female protesters in the town of Kidal who also ransacked and set fire to airport facilities, said a local official, witnesses and the U.N. mission in Mali, MINUSMA.

The protests appear to mark a deterioration in relations between foreign forces and the local community in Kidal, a town at the centre of a separatist movement and violence by Islamist militants, some of whom are linked to al Qaeda.

One person died and six were injured, said Ahmoudane Ag Ikmasse, who represents Kidal in the national assembly. Ikmasse said he was in the capital Bamako but was in contact with people in Kidal.

A doctor in Kidal’s health centre said two died from gunshot wounds.

It was not clear why the airport was targeted or why women were the main participants in the protest.

The U.N. mission was not immediately able to confirm the death toll and it was not clear how many people were involved in the protests. A French military spokesman declined to comment.

“MINUSMA is contact with the Malian authorities and leaders of local communities as well as those from civil society, aiming to ease tensions and understanding the circumstances of the events,” the mission said in a statement.

MINUSMA and French forces have been stationed in northern Mali for about three years since separatists joined jihadists to seize the region from the government in Bamako.

Although France drove jihadists out of key towns in 2013, they have regrouped. In November, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb attacked a luxury hotel in the capital, killing 20 people and demonstrating a reach beyond their base.

Protests targeting MINUSMA broke out once before in January 2015.

(REUTERS)