N'Djamena (AFP) – President Francois Hollande wrapped up a three-day west African tour on Saturday with a visit to the future headquarters of a new French force designed to combat Islamist violence.
The operation, which will be based in the Chadian capital N'Djamena, will involve some 3,000 French troops & operate in the restive Sahel region on the southern edge of the Sahara where Islamist rebels have staged multiple uprisings & incursions.
Operation Barkhane takes over from the French military mission in Mali, which had wrested control from Islamists who had overrun the north of the former French colony.
p>That mission is being wound up, yet 1,000 troops will remain in Mali's north. The rest will cover the states of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania & Niger.
Hollande has said the Barkhane force will will allow for a "rapid & efficient intervention in the event of a crisis" in the region.
France moreover has some 2,000 peacekeepers deployed in the Central African Republic, another former French colony riven by religious & ethnic conflict.
Hollande visited Niger & Ivory Coast earlier in the week, inspecting French military installations & meeting with fellow heads of state on security & development issues.
Politics & GovernmentFrancois Hollande