France To Increase Troop Numbers In Ivory Coast After Beach Attack

franceFrance will nearly double the number of troops it has in Ivory Coast, the defense minister said on Saturday.

He was on a visit to the country during which he laid flowers at the site of an attack on tourists that killed 19 people.

Jean-Yves Le Drian placed a bouquet on the beach in Grand Bassam, a resort town 40 km (25 miles) from Abidjan, where gunmen shot swimmers and sunbathers before storming hotels last month, an attack claimed by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Four French citizens were killed.

Le Drian said France, the former colonial power, would increase its contingent of troops in Ivory Coast to 900 from 550.

“We need to reinforce coordination in an intelligence capacity at the same time as in an intervention capacity in the whole of West Africa,” the defence minister said.

Terrorist Attack: No Need To Panic – Ghana’s President

Terrorist AttackAuthorities in Ghana have called on residents in the country not to panic after a leaked security memo shows militant Islamists are planning a terrorist attack the West African country.

President John Mahama has asked for public vigilance. He says Ghana is also at risk from home-grown militants.

The memo reveals this information was obtained from a man held in Ivory Coast over last month’s deadly attack on a beach resort.

It also warned of a possible attack on neighbouring Togo. Ghana and Togo have never been attacked by militant Islamists.

Ivory Coast was hit for the first time on March 13 when gunmen killed at least 18 people at the Grand Bassam Beach Resort, which is popular with locals and foreigners.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack.

Burkina Faso Attack: Foreigners Killed At Luxury Hotel

Burkina Faso AttackBurkina Faso’s government says 28 people were killed and 56 injured after Islamist militants attacked a hotel in the capital, Ouagadougou.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) has said it carried out the attack, which began on Friday night.

Canadian country’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said six of those killed were from his country.

Burkina Faso is to observe 72 hours of national mourning for the victims.

The siege at the splendid hotel popular with foreigners, was declared after a joint operation by local and french security forces.

At least four attackers died in the assaults. There were claims that some of those involved were women.

As well as the luxury hotel, a cafe and another hotel nearby were targeted.

Burkinabe Security Minister, Simon Compoare, said that 176 hostages had been rescued. The bodies of three “very young” attackers had been found.

The BBC reported that the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb grew from a remnant of a defunct rebel force, rooted in Algeria’s civil war in the 1990s, into a wealthy and feared militant group that made its money from kidnapping Westerners and trafficking arms and drugs.

In 2007, it announced it had joined the Al-Qaeda network to fight against Western interests. Later, some of its members left to form their own factions.

The most notable of these was Mokhtar Belmokhtar who was behind the 2013 siege of a gas plant in Algeria.

In November 2015 Belmokhtar’s faction said it had worked with its parent group to attack a hotel in Mali. That signaled the mending of relations between some of the factions to rebuild the original AQIM, which was being overshadowed by its rival, the so-called Islamic State.

 

French Forces ‘Neutralise’ 10 Militants In Mali Operation

mali huntingFrench forces in Mali “neutralized” around 10 fighters in a weekend operation against the al Mourabitoun Islamist group, which claimed responsibility for an attack on a luxury hotel in the capital last month, France’s defense ministry said on Tuesday.

Nineteen victims and two gunmen died in the Nov. 20 assault on Bamako’s Radisson Blu hotel. The victims included six Russians, three Chinese, an American, a Belgian, a Senegalese and an Israeli.

A statement released by the defense ministry said fighting during the night from Dec. 19 to Dec. 20 lasted nearly four hours.

“French forces carried out an operation in the region of Menaka in Mali against an element of the terrorist group al Mourabitoun responsible for numerous attacks,” the statement said ,without identifying the operation’s target.

“Some 10 terrorists were neutralized. A large quantity of arms and explosives were seized,” it added.

Al Mourabitoun, headed by veteran Algerian jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said the Radisson attack was a joint operation between the two groups.

Homegrown Malian Islamist group the Massina Liberation Front also claimed responsibility for the raid.

France To Treat Boko Haram Like Al-Qaeda

champagneFrance has declared that the Boko Haram sect would be treated like Al-Qaeda, just as the sect’s members.

French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jacques Champagne de Labriolle, who made the declaration in Abuja, said that his country would not hesitate to offer intelligence support, pointing out that collective effort was needed to tackle insurgency.

According to Ambassador de Labriolle, France believes that the mobilization against Boko Haram should be the same as the mobilization the world has seen before against Al-Qaeda and for the same reason.

This comes as the U.N. Security Council Committee on Al Qaeda Sanctions also blacklisted the Boko Haram sect after the insurgents kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls.

The U.N. listing entry described Boko Haram as an affiliate of Al Qaeda and the organization of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The Nigerian Government has sought international support in its fight against the sect after it abducted over 200 schoolgirls from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State.

The sect, since the abduction of the girls has continued to carry out different devastation attacks on the Nigerian people, with many lives lost in the northern states of Borno, Kano and Plateau.

Al Qaeda Blames Hezbollah For Lebanon Bombings

Al Qaeda’s North African branch blamed Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim militant group Hezbollah for twin bombs that hit the northern city of Tripoli on Friday and threatened retribution, a U.S.-based intelligence monitoring website reported on Saturday.

Although al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, is not operational in Lebanon, its statement shows a growing regional hatred against Hezbollah by radical Sunni Muslim groups and a wider, deepening sectarian divide in the Middle East.

AQIM said in tweets it knew “with certainty” that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah was responsible for the attack that killed more than 42 people in Tripoli.

“That vile party … should know that it will meet retribution soon,” AQIM said, according to the SITE monitoring service.

Hezbollah, which was once lauded by both Sunnis and Shi’ites for its battles against Israel, has lost support from many Sunnis since it joined Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s side in his 2 1/2-year-old fight against a majority Sunni uprising.

Syrian rebels, whose strongest elements are radical Sunnis, have been hosted in neighboring Lebanon by sympathetic Sunnis and there have been attacks on Hezbollah members on Lebanese soil. Both Hezbollah and radical Sunni groups in Lebanon have sent fighters into Syria to fight on opposing sides.

The explosions in Tripoli, 70 km (40 miles) from the capital Beirut, were the biggest and deadliest there since the end of Lebanon’s own civil war and came a week after a huge car bomb killed at least 24 people in a Shi’ite district of Beirut controlled by Hezbollah.

“We know with certainty that behind this deplorable act committed against are the hands of the vile, rafidah Hezbollah, which stands side by side with Bashar in Syria,” the AQIM tweets said, as quoted by SITE.

Al Qaeda groups follow a hardline ideology that rejects all non-Sunnis as infidels and regularly incites antagonism towards Shi’ites. Assad’s family is from the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.

Al Qaeda blames Hezbollah for Lebanon bombings

France Says 15 Militants Killed Overnight In Mali Fighting

Around 15 Islamist militants were killed by French and Chadian troops in fighting overnight in northern Mali’s Ametetai valley, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday.

He said some 1,600 French and Chadian troops operating in the area continued to search for Islamist rebels.

France is still not in a position, however, to confirm reports that the military operation has killed two key al Qaeda commanders, Abdelhamid Abou Zeid and Mokhtar Belmokhtar, Le Drian told BFM TV.

Shown a photograph published in French media of a partly shrouded corpse said to be Belmokhtar’s, Le Drian said it would be good news if it was the jihadist leader but that he was not convinced by the image.

“Our forces fought terrorist groups last night, still in the same area, the Ametetai valley region, where there is a strong concentration of them. Around 15 militants were killed,” Le Drian said.

“It’s not over yet as after the Ametetai valley there are other valleys … Given the ferocity of the fighting over the past fortnight, we can see there is a hideout there.”

Three French soldiers and dozens of Islamists have been killed in a seven-week campaign that has driven al Qaeda-linked fighters who took over northern Mali last April back into mountain and desert redoubts, where they are being hunted by hundreds of French, Chadian and Malian troops.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has pledged to avenge the French assault, which Paris says it launched due to fears that its former colony could become a launch pad for wider Islamist attacks.

Asked about the risks of the fighting to a French family taken hostage in Cameroon last month by Islamist militants and taken into Nigeria, Le Drian said France had information on the whereabouts of the three adults and four children, and everything indicated they were still alive.

“I think if the hostages had been killed, their captors would have let it be known,” he said. “We are using all the means we can to get them freed.”