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Mali accuses France of arming jihadists

Mali accused France of arming Islamist fighters and carrying out acts of espionage against it, as relations between the West African country and the former colonial power reached a new low.

In a letter addressed to the United Nations Security Council, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop called for an emergency meeting in response to what he described as French “acts of aggression.”

The letter, dated Monday, August 15, the day the last French army unit left Mali after a six-month military withdrawal, alleges that France violated Malian airspace more than 50 times this year “to collect information for the benefit of terrorist groups in the Sahel and to airdrop them weapons and munitions.”

The French embassy in Mali responded on Twitter, saying that, “France has obviously never supported, directly or indirectly, these terrorist groups, who remain its enemies everywhere on earth.”

“53 French soldiers died in Mali over the last nine years,” the statement read. “Their mission was, above all, to fight terrorist groups and improve the safety of Malians by doing so.”

In February, France announced the end of its nine-year counterinsurgency efforts in Mali, amid growing tensions with the country’s military junta, which overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in 2020, and later abandoned commitments to hold elections and restore civilian rule.

The decision to pull out of Mali marked a major setback in Paris’ efforts to fight terrorist groups in the Sahel region, ongoing since 2013. Germany on Friday suspended its military mission to Mali “until further notice,” as terrorists and Russian mercenaries continue to destabilize the embattled African country.

Since last year, Russian mercenaries have been working for the Malian junta in its fight against Islamist insurgents, replacing the French forces as Russia aims to widen its sphere of influence in the region.

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