Macron at summit to boost West Africa anti-terror fight

Nigerien soldiers

Nigerien soldiers

Soldiers worked alongside Malian and other African troops to try to repel the terrorists, with the United Nations Security Council supporting the need for member nations to assist Mali.

Tensions between France and officials from Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania could make for a tricky exchange at the talks in Pau, southwest France.

Previous year was the worst to date in the fight against armed groups in the Sahel region of West Africa.

Being the former colonial power, the French Republic has 4,500 troops in Mali and the Western part of Africa.

Macron wants the summit to help re-legitimize the French operation in the Sahel by sending a strong joint message.

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Monday's summit in the French city of Pau, home to seven of the 13 soldiers killed in a helicopter collision late past year, followed large scale protests in Mali over the presence of French troops in the region.

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France and the European Union have supported a joint force between the five Sahel countries in an attempt to build up local military capacities, so far with little success.

Emmanuel Macron along with his G5 Sahel alternatives (Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad) in Pau (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), on January 13.

Last week, 89 soldiers from Niger were killed in the latest attack. Paris also pledged to implement an intelligence-sharing agreement and integrated command military command structure with the G5 nations and said it would ramp up intervention in the "tri-borders" region of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, where much of the violence that began plaguing the area in 2012 has taken place.

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"We will be more efficient and more agile", she said.

"While groups such as Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) are small compared to groups such as al-Shabaab and Boko Haram, we're observing that the subregional insurgency in the Sahel is transforming and moving from being more cell/matrix-based into a mass-insurgency".

Military assistance will also be placed under this format, including a future force of European special forces, it said.

More than 4,000 deaths were reported previous year, a dramatic increase over the 770 in 2016, he said.

The incident comes amid ongoing clashes between ISIS affiliate Boko Haram and government forces across West Africa.

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Macron ordered a review of the Barkhane operation after the Mali helicopter disaster, saying "all options are on the table", implying a potential drawdown of French troops.

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