Since France first sent troops to Mali over three years ago to retake the north of the country from Islamist insurgents, it has maintained its presence in the wider Sahel region to keep the area secure. Southeast of the Malian city of Gao, 300 French soldiers have been canvassing the arid region, collecting intelligence, tracking down jihad activity, interrogating suspects and busting terrorist cells. It's a long and difficult task in an area where Islamist militant group MUJAO is very active.
A programme prepared by Patrick Lovett
Africa Analyst, Navanti Group