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Britain helps France in Mali military campaign

Published: January 13, 2013
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Source: The Independent

French military forces intervened in two African countries simultaneously yesterday with, at best, muddled results. A daring but botched helicopter raid by special forces early yesterday failed to free a French intelligence agent held in Somalia since 2009. The agent is believed to have been killed by his captors. At least one French soldier died and another is missing.

A simultaneous French intervention to check an advance by Islamist rebels in Mali appears to have had more success.

A French helicopter pilot was killed in an attack on two rebel columns threatening the towns of Mopti and Sévaré in central Mali. Paris said that several rebel units had been destroyed and their advance checked. Downing Street said last night it would assist by providing two military transport planes in Mali, although no personnel would be dispatched in a combat role.

Although Paris officially denied any link between the two actions 5,000 miles apart, the Somalia raid is believed to have been prompted by fears that the Malian intervention could endanger the lives of nine French hostages held across northern and eastern Africa.

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