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EU agrees to train Mali police, extends army training mission

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - The European Union agreed on Tuesday to send civilian advisers to train and advise Mali's police while extending by two years a mission to train the army. The decisions, taken by EU defense ministers at a meeting in Luxembourg, are part of international efforts to stabilize Mali and extend the state's authority there, 15 months after France launched a military offensive to drive out Islamists who had seized control of northern Mali.

Mali celebrates its army alongside France, UN

Malian soldiers and international forces paraded through the capital Bamako on Monday during a public holiday marking the 53rd anniversary of the founding of the west African nation's army. Malian soldiers were joined in the Boulevard de l'Independance by UN peacekeepers, members of the European Union mission training Mali's army and troops from Operation Serval, France's military mission which ousted armed jihadists from its former colony last year.

Mali battles voter fatigue ahead of parliamentary polls

People in Mali are being urged to cast off election fatigue and vote Sunday in the fourth nationwide polls in less than six months, amid widespread apathy stoked by fears of Islamist violence. The second round of the country's parliamentary elections comes three weeks after a poorly attended first, and follows two rounds of voting in July and August which saw Ibrahim Boubacar Keita take office as the troubled west African nation's president.

Suicide bomber targets French army in Mali: military sources

A suicide bomber killed himself but caused no other casualties overnight Saturday in a botched attack against a French army position in northern Mali, Malian and French military officials said. "The suicide bomber targeted a French army position in the town of Menaka," a senior Malian army official told AFP by telephone from northern Mali. "The French troops detected his presence and in the rush, the man set off his (explosive) belt, killing himself but causing no other casualties," he said.

Mali goes to polls under threat of Islamist violence

Malians voted on Sunday in parliamentary elections intended to seal the troubled west African nation's return to democracy but overshadowed by the threat of Islamist reprisals. The polls mark Mali's first steps to recovery after it was plunged into chaos by a military coup in March last year, and finalise a process begun with the election of its first post-conflict leader in August. "I wanted to express my joy at coming to vote," President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said after casting his ballot in the capital Bamako.

Mali goes to polls under threat of Islamist violence

Malians voted on Sunday in parliamentary elections intended to seal the troubled west African nation's return to democracy but overshadowed by the threat of Islamist reprisals. The polls mark Mali's first steps to recovery after it was plunged into chaos by a military coup in March last year, and finalise a process begun with the election of its first post-conflict president in August.

Forces in 'large-scale' operation against Mali extremists

French, UN and Malian forces were engaged in a major operation aimed at preventing a resurgence of Islamist rebels in Mali, the French military said Thursday. "We have engaged, with the Malian army and (UN mission) MINUSMA, in a large-scale operation" in the so-called Niger Loop, an area hugging a curve of the Niger River between Timbuktu and Gao, French general staff spokesman Colonel Gilles Jaron said. "It is the first time we have seen forces of significant size working together," Jaron said.

Two Chadian soldiers, civilian killed in Mali attack

Militants killed at least two Chadian UN peacekeepers and a civilian in a suicide car bomb attack in northern Mali Wednesday, military sources told AFP, with Islamist violence escalating in the troubled west African nation. The ambush on a United Nations checkpoint follows an urgent request by the organisation for more troops as its peacekeeping force faces an upsurge in rocket attacks and bombings by militants ahead of nationwide elections.

France at the top table for Mali president's inauguration

Leaders from Morocco to Gabon will cheer on the inauguration of Mali's new president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Thursday in a show of African unity as Mali enters a new era of democracy after months of political chaos. But in many ways the ceremony at the 55,000-seat March 26 Stadium in the capital Bamako will hold most significance for France -- drawing a line under what has been viewed as one of the more successful foreign interventions by a Western power in recent decades.

Malians go to polls in watershed election

Malians voted on Sunday for a president expected to usher in a new dawn of peace and stability in the first election since a military coup upended one of the region's most stable democracies. Almost seven million voters have a choice of 27 candidates to lead the troubled nation from a crisis ignited by the mutiny which allowed Islamists to take control of its vast north before they were dislodged by a French-led military intervention.
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