French President Macron vows to fight Islamic State extremism in North Africa
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French President Emmanuel Macron voiced his determination to fight Islamic State (IS) extremism in West Africa after French forces killed 33 Islamist militants in Mali.
“We must remain determined and united to face that threat,” Macron, who was on the second day of his three-day trip to West Africa, said in a news conference in Cote d’Ivoire’s main city of Abidjan on Saturday. “We will continue the fight.”
French troops carried out the operation by using attack helicopters, ground troops and a drone in the Mopti region of central Mali, Xinhua news agency reported.
Since 2015, some 4,500 French troops have been sent to West Africa’s Sahel region to help combat extremist fighters and restore security in the area.
Meanwhile, BBC reports that France is concern about rise in the number of attacks by jihadists in West Africa. The current French operation has been running since 2014, co-ordinating on security issues with Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.
Regional leaders have called for more international support to tackle the militants but there has also been rising anti-French sentiment and protests in some cities in the region. The Sahel, the vast semi-desert region that stretches across West Africa, is home to numerous al-Qaeda and Islamic State-aligned groups.
There are also ethnically-based local militias operating, some fighting against and others alongside French and national forces.
Main jihadist groups in the region are: Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) – an alliance of jihadist groups, active throughout the Sahel region;The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) – affiliated to IS, active in north-east Mali; Ansarul Islam – active in northern Burkina Faso and Boko Haram, active in north-eastern Nigeria, Niger, Chad and northern Cameroon.
Source: Asian Lite