Mali says France training ‘terrorists’ in West African nation
Mali’s Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga says he has evidence that France has been training “terrorist” groups operating in the West African country.
Maiga told Sputnik on Friday that French troops had created an enclave in Kidal, a town in the desert region of northern Mali, and handed it over to a terrorist group known as Ansar al-Din.
“Mali has no access to Kidal, this is an enclave controlled by France,” he said, adding that the Malian military was banned from entering the territory.
“They have armed groups trained by French officers. We have evidence... We do not understand this situation and do not want to tolerate it,” the Malian prime minister said.
Maiga further said that the alleged terrorists that are operating in the country “came from Libya, and who destroyed the state of Libya? It was France with allies.”
The statement comes days after Mali summoned France’s ambassador to the country to register its “indignation” at French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent criticism of the country’s government, which is dominated by army figures.
A French mission began operating in Mali in 2013 to allegedly counter militants that Paris claims are linked to the al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups.
This summer, Paris announced a gradual drawdown of France’s military presence in the Sahel and the end of the French military operation known as Barkhane.
Terrorist groups, linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh, have strengthened their foothold across the arid Sahel region, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking local ethnic violence, especially in Mali and Burkina Faso.
Since 2012, Mali has been in a persisting conflict after Takfiri terrorists hijacked an uprising by Tuareg people, a large Berber ethnic confederation living across the Sahara Desert.
Ironically, the most violent extremists have emerged in the Middle East and Africa after the deployment of Western troops and violence has intensified in proportion to their military buildup over time.
The presence of terrorist groups in Africa have been an excuse for global powers to re-enter these countries. This was seen in the French military intervention in Mali and the US military campaign in Somalia.