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France seeks more European special forces to tackle rising Sahel violence

France seeks more European special forces to tackle rising Sahel violence

France has asked European powers to provide special forces to support thousands of troops struggling to contain a rise in violence in West Africa. There has been an increase over the last six months in Islamist militant attacks and inter-ethnic violence in the Sahel region, Reuters said.

“If we do not stabilize Mali, Niger or Burkina Faso, Europe will have over its head, not one, but two lasting Damocles' swords: that of terrorism… and that of illegal migration,” Defense Minister Florence Parly said on Thursday.

France intervened in Mali in 2013 to drive out Islamist militants who had occupied the north. It has since kept about 4,500 troops in the region. The UN has a peacekeeping force in Mali of about 15,000 soldiers and police.

Western powers have provided funding to the G5 regional force –made up of soldiers from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania– to combat jihadists.