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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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Mali's Main Tuareg-led Rebels to Sign Peace Deal June 20

The head of Mali's main Tuareg-led rebel groups said on Friday that his movement will sign a final deal to end the conflict in the west African nation on June 20.

The Coordination of Azawad Movements headed by Bilal Ag Cherif initialed a peace agreement with the Malian government in Algiers on May 14 but held out on a final deal until some changes were made.

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Kenya Fight against Shebab Shifts to its Own Backyard

From hit and run attacks and massacres to a shopping trip, Somali-led Shebab militants are on the march in northeastern Kenya.

With large numbers of troops in southern Somalia but seemingly unable to effectively police its own outer regions, Kenya must react quickly to stop the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamists from gaining significant ground and finding a new generation of recruits, Western security officials say.

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Mauritanian Agency: AQIM Islamists Claim Two Attacks against U.N. in Mali

Al-Qaida's North Africa arm has claimed responsibility for two attacks against the United Nation's MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Mali this week, the Mauritanian Al-Akhbar news agency reported Sunday.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said it was behind a "rocket attack on a MINUSMA base" in northern Mali on Monday and a landmine explosion Thursday targeting a U.N. convoy in the restive north, according to al-Akhbar, citing AQIM spokesman Abderrahmane Al-Azawadi.

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Head of Mali's Main Tuareg-led Rebels Hopeful on Peace Deal

The head of Mali's main Tuareg-led rebel groups on Sunday said he was convinced that consultations underway in Algeria to finalize a peace agreement with the Bamako government would bear fruit.

"We remain convinced that efforts and discussions underway in Algeria will be successful," said Bilal Ag Cherif, who heads the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), the APS news agency reported.

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