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France vows to stick by Mali withdrawal plans

France said Tuesday it would stick to plans to withdraw most its troops from Mali, as the bodies of two French journalists killed in the country's restive north arrived in Paris. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said 150 French soldiers had been sent to join 200 troops already in the flashpoint northeastern town of Kidal, where Radio France Internationale (RFI) journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon were killed on Saturday. But he insisted France would pull two-thirds of the soldiers it has in Mali out of the west African country by the end of January as planned.

France will keep to Mali troop reduction calendar

PARIS (Reuters) - France will not delay its troop withdrawal from Mali despite a resurgence in violence that saw two French journalists killed at the weekend, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday. France, which sent soldiers to its former colony in January to combat militants who had taken over swathes of the country, has already pushed back by two months plans to reduce troop numbers to 1,000, from 3,200 by the end of the year.

Bodies of French journalists killed in Mali arrive in Paris

The bodies of two French journalists shot dead in the rebel-infested northern desert of Mali arrived home in Paris early Tuesday, as Bamako vowed to hunt down their killers. The Air France flight carrying the coffins of of Ghislaine Dupont, 57, and Claude Verlon, 55, arrived at the Charles de Gaulle airport in the French capital from Bamako. The two journalists working for Radio France Internationale (RFI) were kidnapped and killed by what French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called "terrorist groups" in the flashpoint northeastern town of Kidal on Saturday.

Mali pays homage to French reporters as bodies flown home

Mali paid homage to two French journalists shot dead in its rebel-infested northern desert and vowed to hunt down their killers, as a plane left capital Bamako carrying their bodies back home. The Air France flight carrying the coffins of Ghislaine Dupont, 57, and Claude Verlon, 55, took off from Bamako airport shortly before midnight Monday and was expected to arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris early Tuesday morning.

French and Malian forces hunt journalists' killers

PARIS/BAMAKO (Reuters) - The coffins of two French journalists killed in Mali last week were loaded onto a Paris-bound aircraft in the capital Bamako on Monday as French and Malian troops hunted for their killers. Reporter Claude Verlon, 58, and radio technician Ghislaine Dupont, 51, who both worked for Radio France Internationale, were found dead in northern Mali on Saturday after being kidnapped in the city of Kidal.

Niger rescues 72 migrants stranded in desert

The Niger authorities on Monday rescued 72 women and children who were stranded in the scorching Sahara desert after their truck got a flat tyre. The people who found them were on their way to the burial site for some of the 92 migrants who died of thirst after a similar incident last month. "They were spotted in the middle of the desert by a delegation from Agadez that was on its way to the graves of the migrants who died recently," Azaoua Mamane, from the Niger-based aid group Synergie, told AFP. A local security official confirmed the rescue but provided no details.

France, Mali hunt killers of French journalists

Mali paid homage on Monday to two French journalists shot dead in the west African nation's rebel-infested northern desert as the hunt for the killers by French troops and Malian security forces intensified. Ghislaine Dupont, 57, and Claude Verlon, 55, were kidnapped and killed by what French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said were "terrorist groups" in the flashpoint northeastern town of Kidal on Saturday.

Three Malian Tuareg and Arab rebel movements announce merger

Three Tuareg and Arab rebel movements in northern Mali announced their merger on Monday to form a united front in peace talks with the authorities in Bamako. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) adopted a "political platform", a "negotiating committee" and a joint "decision-making body" after several days of talks in Burkina Faso. bur-ft/ric

France, Mali hunt killers of French journalists

French troops were working with Malian security forces on Monday to hunt the killers of two French journalists shot dead in the west African nation's rebel-infested northern desert. Ghislaine Dupont, 57, and Claude Verlon, 55, were kidnapped and killed by what French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said were "terrorist groups" in the flashpoint northeastern town of Kidal on Saturday.

Tuareg rebels 'humiliated' over journalist murders

The main Tuareg rebel group in Mali said on Monday it had been humiliated by the murder of two French journalists in its desert stronghold but had been denied the opportunity to help find the killers. Ghislaine Dupont, 57, and Claude Verlon, 55, were kidnapped and shot dead by what French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said were "terrorist groups" in the flashpoint northeastern town of Kidal on Saturday.
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