Mali cuts France military ties as counter-insurgency force exits

The decision to end military collaboration marks the latest deterioration in relations between the countries. PHOTO: AFP

BAMAKO, MALI (BLOOMBERG) - Mali severed defence ties with France as a multinational force that's helped the government fight an Islamist insurgency for the past decade withdraws from the West African nation.

The decision to end military collaboration marks the latest deterioration in relations between the countries after a series of disputes in recent months.

Mali has criticised France's decision to move its counter-insurgency forces to neighbouring Niger, while France has condemned the presence of Russian private mercenaries in the country and last month accused those forces of being involved in human rights abuses.

In the latest spat, government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said French military aircraft had violated the nation's airspace.

As a result, the legal framework enabling the French counter-insurgency force Barkhane and the European task force Takuba to remain in the country will come to an end immediately, he said in a statement.

The severing of the agreement means French and European forces can no longer enter Malian territory or move freely within that country.

French troops entered Mali in 2013 to stop Al-Qaeda-linked militants from advancing toward the capital, Bamako.

Ties between Mali and France have been deteriorating since a coup in the West African nation in 2020.

In March, Human Rights Watch reported that Malian forces operating alongside alleged Russian fighters killed at least 300 civilians in the village of Moura, in central Mali, according to residents there.

Mali's army said it killed 203 militants in an operation against Islamist insurgents.

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