Sunday, January 13, 2013


France Rafale jets target Gao in eastern Mali

"An unnamed Elysee Palace official quoted by AFP said on Sunday that French armed forces had been surprised by the fighting quality and the equipment of the militants they were up against.

French hostages still held in Africa

  • Pierre Legrand, 26, Daniel Larribe, 59, Thierry Dole, 29, and Marc Feret, 43, were kidnapped in northern Niger in 2010 by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
  • Philippe Verdon and Serge Lazarevic, were kidnapped in northern Mali in November 2011 by AQIM.
  • Gilberto Rodriguez Leal, 61, was kidnapped in western Mali in November 2012 by the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao).
  • Francis Collomp, 63, was kidnapped in Nigeria by Islamist group Ansaru.
"At the start, we thought they would be just a load of guys with guns driving about in their pick-ups, but the reality is that they are well-trained, well-equipped, and well-armed," the official said.
"From Libya they have got hold of a lot of up-to-date, sophisticated equipment which is much more robust and effective than we could have imagined."
France has sent around 550 troops to the central town of Mopti and the capital, Bamako. They are set to be joined by troops from the neighbouring African states of Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Togo, some of which are expected to arrive in Mali within days."

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