Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

#TECH 24

Station F: Putting Paris on the global tech map

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Davos 2017: 'I believe in the power of entrepreneurs to change the world'

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

French education with a difference: Teachers who think outside the box

Read more

#THE 51%

Equality in the boardroom: French law requires large firms to have 40% women on boards

Read more

FASHION

Men's fashion: Winter 2017/2018 collections shake up gender barriers

Read more

ENCORE!

Turkish writer Aslı Erdoğan speaks out about her time behind bars

Read more

REVISITED

Video: Threat of economic crisis still looms in Zimbabwe

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

DAVOS 2017: Has the bubble burst?

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

DAVOS 2017: Summit overshadowed by geopolitical changes

Read more

Africa

French troops to begin Mali withdrawal in April

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-03-06

French President François Hollande on Wednesday said that his country would begin withdrawing troops from Mali in April, a month later than planned, as an UN-backed African coalition force takes over.

President François Hollande said on Wednesday that France would begin pulling its troops out of Mali as of April, a month later than planned, with a handover to an UN-backed African coalition force.

The "final phase" of the French intervention in the troubled west African country "will last through March and from April there will be a decrease in the number of French soldiers in Mali as African forces will take over, supported by the Europeans," Hollande said during a visit to Warsaw for a six-nation European Union defence summit.

The president also said that a military campaign against Islamist rebels in Mali had killed "terrorist leaders", without clarifying whether he was referring to two al Qaeda commanders reported dead last week.

"We have launched an offensive in two directions, the first in the Ifoghas mountain range, and there we have had successes that will be further confirmed in the coming days, including the killing of terrorist leaders," he said.

Chad has said that its soldiers, fighting alongside the French, have killed two top commanders from al Qaeda's north African wing (AQIM), Abdelhamid Abou Zeid and Mokhtar Belmokhtar, but Paris has so far said it could not confirm the reports.

Hollande’s comments came as another French soldier was killed in Mali, the fourth French military death since the launch of operations in the country on January 11.

The presidency said in a statement that the soldier, with the 68th African Artillery Regiment based in Valbonne, had died in combat early Wednesday in eastern Mali, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the northern city of Gao.

Gao: A 'favourite' for Islamist militants

In the statement, Hollande paid homage to "the sacrifice of this soldier who carried out his mission to free Mali of terrorist groups with courage and devotion."

France has suffered relatively few casualties during its operations in Mali, launched to back up Malian forces against Islamist rebels who seized control of the country's vast desert north last year.

On Saturday, a paratrooper was killed during an operation to flush out militants from the Ifoghas mountains in northern Mali.

A legionnaire with the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment was killed amid heavy clashes on February 19 and a helicopter pilot died at the very start of the operation.

The French-led intervention quickly ousted the rebels from the north's main cities and fighting has intensified in recent days as efforts focus on hunting down the militants in mountainous areas.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-03-06

  • FRANCE 24 EXCLUSIVE

    French pilots in Mali doing battle from the sky

    Read more

  • MALI-BURKINA FASO

    Thousands of Malians seek refuge in Burkina Faso

    Read more

  • MALI - FRANCE

    French UN envoy: Mali peacekeeping force months away

    Read more

COMMENT(S)