Mali
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English-accented Jihadi Parades Westerners in al-Qaida Video

Al-Qaida's north African branch has released footage of a jihadist with an English accent parading two Western hostages he says are being held in "new territory" under its control.

South African Stephen Malcolm McGowan and Swede Johan Gustafson were abducted in Timbuktu, northern Mali, in November 2011 and have been held since by Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

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Mali Asks U.N. to Take on Drug Traffickers Fueling Conflict

Mali asked the United Nations on Tuesday to take on drug traffickers and roll out an emergency aid package after a peace deal was signed to end violence in the north.

Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told the Security Council that the U.N. peacekeeping force must help restore state authority in the north after an Islamist takeover in 2013 plunged the country into turmoil.

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French Defense Minister in Mali Visit to Shore up Peace Deal

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Mali on Monday to show his support for a landmark peace deal agreed in the former colony to end years of unrest and ethnic divisions.

Just two days after Mali's Tuareg-led rebel alliance added its signature to the Algiers Accord -- aimed at stabilizing Mali's restive northern desert -- Le Drian traveled to the northern African country to offer France's help in implementing the fragile agreement.

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Mali's Tuareg-led Rebels Sign Landmark Peace Deal

Mali's Tuareg-led rebel alliance signed a landmark deal on Saturday to end years of unrest in a nation riven by ethnic divisions and in the grip of a jihadist insurgency.

The Algiers Accord aims to bring stability to the country's vast northern desert, cradle of several Tuareg uprisings since the 1960s and a sanctuary for Islamist fighters linked to al-Qaida.

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Pro-Government Fighters Refuse to Quit Key Town in Mali

Loyalist militias are refusing to withdraw from a flashpoint town in northern Mali, they said Wednesday, violating a condition for the rebel alliance's commitment to the country's fragile peace process.

The fighters seized Menaka from the volatile west African country's Tuareg-led rebel alliance in April, in an operation which has sparked several violations of a ceasefire agreement, leaving many dead on both sides.

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Algeria Gas Plant Jihadist Belmokhtar 'Killed in U.S. Strike'

Al-Qaida-linked jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who allegedly masterminded the siege of an Algerian gas plant in which 38 hostages died, has been killed in a U.S. air strike, Libya's internationally recognized government said.

"American jets conducted an operation which resulted in the deaths of Mokhtar Belmokhtar and a group of Libyans belonging to a terrorist organization in eastern Libya," said a statement posted on Facebook.

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Mali, Libya Crises to Top agenda as Hollande Visits Algeria

French President Francois Hollande heads to Algeria on Monday as the two nations, once bitter foes, work ever closer to resolve the political turmoil and jihadist threat in Mali and Libya.

The trip will be Hollande's second to Algiers since a 2012 visit during which he recognized France's century of "brutal" rule over the Algerian people which ended in a bloody independence war.

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Policeman Killed by Suspected Jihadists in Southern Mali

Suspected jihadists killed a policeman in a rare attack in southern Mali on Wednesday, hoisting their black flag at the local military base, government and security sources told AFP.

A minister said the "cowardly terrorists" killed the warrant officer in Misseni, near the border with Ivory Coast, while a local councilor said "around 30 jihadists" had briefly occupied the town's army camp.

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Mali Troops Get Reacquainted with Lost North

For Malian troops making their first forays into the country's north since jihadists took control, French military support provides reassurance at a time when they are strangers in their own back yard.

Islamist militias linked to al-Qaida -- some foreign fighters but most homegrown jihadists -- seized the vast expanse of desert in 2012, effectively kicking out the Malian military and government.

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Spain Defense Minister Backs International Action in Libya

An international military intervention is needed to end unrest in Libya, where the Islamic State group is gaining a foothold, Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenes said in an interview published Saturday.

"We went to Afghanistan to stop all of that from coming here, we are in Iraq, Mali or Somalia with the same objective. And now we have it nearby. Something may need to be done," he told the top-selling Spanish daily El Pais when asked if there would be a military intervention in Libya.

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