France boosts military in Sahel

2015-03-11 21:21
Two French soldiers were killed in combat overnight since France stepped up its presence to restive the former French colony to help quell inter-religious violence. (Jerome Delay, AP)

Two French soldiers were killed in combat overnight since France stepped up its presence to restive the former French colony to help quell inter-religious violence. (Jerome Delay, AP)

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Paris - France will boost its military presence in the troubled Sahel region of Africa where jihadist groups operate to support the fight against Boko Haram, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters, he said France would "slightly increase" the number of soldiers operating under its Barkhane anti-jihadist operation in the Sahel and reduce armed forces in the Central African Republic "to give us the means to support" the fight against Boko Haram.

Under Barkhane, France already has around 3 000 troops in the region but Paris has insisted it will limit itself to "indirect support" of the widening African effort to combat the growing Boko Haram insurgency.

The radical Islamist group has recently spread its insurgency beyond Nigeria to neighbours Chad and Niger, in addition to further attacks in Cameroon, and those countries have been drawn into the battle to stop the extremists.

Le Drian, who gave no specific troop figures, reiterated on Wednesday that Paris had no desire to get dragged into fighting, adding it would continue to provide logistical support and intelligence.

Read more on:    boko haram  |  chad  |  france  |  west africa

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