Tag Archives: France

Nantes: Rwanda migrant admits arson

The Rwanda irregular migrant has been arrested again, he had previously been questioned and then released after the July 18 blaze that destroyed the precious baroque organ, shattered stained glass windows, and blackened the insides of the Cathedral of St.Peter and St.Paul of the French city of Nantes.

The 39-year-old, a failed asylum-seeker from Rwanda who has lived in France for several years, was detained again on July 25 after laboratory analysis determined that arson was the highly likely cause of the cirminal blaze, the local prosecutor’s office said.

The man had previously been questioned and then released after the July 18 blaze that destroyed the organ, shattered stained glass windows, and blackened the insides of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul of the western French city of Nantes.

«My client is cooperating,» lawyer Quentin Chabert said at a news conference in Nantes, without speculating what prompted the attempt to burn down the Cathedral,and destroyed precious orgue and other artefacts.

«Obviously it was a relief for him to show, as he would say, his repentance. As a believer, it’s important for him to show this effort,» he said.

BFMTV, citing a source close to the investigation, said that the defendant had been in France since 2012 and was obliged to leave French territory at the end of 2019. His residence permit expired in March of this year and became invalid, and he has exhausted all the legal procedures to stay in France further. Before the fire in the cathedral, the perpetrator had no record of law violations.

The rector of the Nantes cathedral, Hubert Champenois, admitted that he fully trusted the accused, who served in the church for several years.

The version of deliberate arson was a priority from the early stage of the investigation.The fires appeared simultaneously in three places at a considerable distance from each other. Upon closer examination of the consequences of the fire, experts found traces of a flammable liquid.

The accused was the last one to leave the cathedral before the fire and lock its doors. During the first interrogation by the police, he was confused in testimony regarding his future pastime and was the main suspect.

The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul is the cathedral of the Diocese of Nantes, the largest Gothic church in historic Brittany and one of the largest in France, just 6 meters below Notre Dame Cathedral, and surpasses it in the height of the nave under the arches.

The cathedral was built for almost five hundred years – from 1434 to 1891. This is the fourth church in this place. It was preceded by an early Christian Roman chapel at Namnet (3rd century), a 6th-century cathedral, and an 11th-century Romanesque cathedral.

The ‘grand orgue’, the masterpiece of Jacques Giradet, was constructed in 1620, escapting fire in 1972, has been destroyed to ashes this time.

The instrument of the master Jacques Girardet was equipped with 27 stops. Over the centuries, the organ has been in constant evolution while surviving the upheavals of French history. It has undergone five restorations, bringing their number to 74, or 5,500 pipes.

France calls for Mali opposition leader release

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on July 8 called for the release of Malian opposition leader Soumaila Cisse (pictured), who has been held hostage by suspected Islamist militants since March.

“France expresses its outrage over Mr Soumaila Cisse’s situation. He is the opposition leader, he was candidate in the presidential election and he was taken hostage three months ago and we are strongly calling for his release,” Le Drian told the National Assembly when asked about Cisse.

Cisse and several members of his delegation were ambushed by unidentified gunmen in March on the campaign trail in the northern region of Timbuktu. His bodyguard was killed and two others wounded, Cisse’s Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD) said at the time.

Militants with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State stage frequent attacks on civilian and military targets in the area, but there was no claim of responsibility and no request for ransom has been received.

France, the former colonial ruler, has troops in Mali to counter the jihadist threat.

Cisse, 70, is Mali’s leading opposition figure and was finance minister from 1993 to 2000. He lost the 2013 and 2018 elections to President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Mali’s government has said the military is trying to find the hostages. Mali has been in political turmoil since the disputed election in March.

EU committed to G5 Sahel

The joint invitation of the Mauritanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, in the presidency-in-office of the G5 Sahel the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell Fontelles, and the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, a ministerial meeting of the Coalition for the Sahel in plenary format was held by videoconference, this Friday, June 12, 2020.

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This first meeting of the Coalition, in response to the call from the G5 Sahel countries, brought together some sixty representatives of states and international institutions. The first works of the Coalition were thus able to be held in an enlarged format, as the European Union and the heads of state of the G5 Sahel had called for during the video conference on April 28, 2020 which devoted the joint establishment of the Coalition for the Sahel and the Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel (P3S).

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Participants expressed their commitment to support the implementation of G5 Sahel action. Their intervention will be carried out according to the four pillars of the Coalition for the Sahel: fight against terrorism, strengthening of the military capacities of the G5 Sahel States, support for the return of the State and the administrations in the territory, development aid.

They took note of the progress made and the initiatives under way. These include the implementation of the Priority Investment Program, the ramp-up of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the launch of Task Force Takuba, the military contribution of the African Union currently underway. finalization, progress within the framework of the peace process in Mali, strengthening of the mandate and enlargement of the geographical scope of the European training mission EUTM Mali, commitment of the European Union in favor of the redeployment of the ‘State under the P3S, as well as exchanges within the Sahel Alliance in favor of a more integrated territorial approach.

The participants underlined their common determination to support the efforts of the G5 Sahel to face the challenges that remain and to tackle the structural causes of instability: poverty, fragile growth and development, climate shock, while respecting human rights. and international humanitarian law, and the protection of the most disadvantaged.

The general principles of the Coalition were recalled: mobilization and solidarity with the Sahel, mutual accountability, representativeness of each participant, common and balanced integrated approach between the four pillars, subsidiarity and complementarity: no duplication or authority over existing structures .

To this end, the partners agreed to hold a meeting in restricted format in July to prepare for a next ministerial meeting after the summer. According to the progress of the work, the G5 Sahel will host, in agreement with the partners of the Coalition, during 2021, an extraordinary Summit of Heads of State.

Islamist warlord killed in Mali

Al-Qaeda warlord in north Africa, Abdelmalek Droukdel, is pronounced dead by French authorites after an operation in Mali.

Defence Minister Florence Parly said Droukdel along with members of his inner circle were neutralised in the north of the country on June 3.

French forces had also captured a senior Islamic State group commander in Mali in anther operation in May, she said.

The Minister described actions as “daring operations” had dealt “severe blows to the terrorist groups”.

Droukdel was in charge of all the al-Qaeda affiliates in north Africa and also commanded al-Qaeda’s Sahel affiliate, Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), which has been active in the north of Mali and Burkina Faso.

The captured Islamic State group commander, Mohamed Mrabat, was a jihadist was a long recored and had a senior role in the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) group, she said.

ISGS has been active in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Rwanda genocide fugitive arrested in Paris

Genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga (84), who is accused of funding Rwanda militias that massacred about 800,000 people, was arrested on May 16 near Paris after being 26 years at large, the French justice ministry said.

Rwanda’s most-wanted man ($5 million U.S. reward), was living under a false identity in a flat in Asnieres-Sur-Seine, according to French authorities.

French gendarmes arrested him at 0530 GMT on May 16, the Ministry said.

Kabuga was indicted in 1997 on seven criminal counts including genocide, complicity in genocide and incitement to commit genocide, all in relation to the 1994 Rwanda tragic events, according to the UN-established International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT).

Rwanda’s two main ethnic groups are the Hutus and Tutsis entered a civil war in the early 1990s.

A Hutu businessman, Kabuga is accused of funding the militias that massacred some 800,000 Tutsis and their moderate Hutu allies during 100 days in 1994.

Since 1994, Felicien Kabuga, known to have been the financier of Rwanda genocide, had with impunity stayed in Germany, Belgium, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, or Switzerland,” the French ministry statement said.

Kabuga’s arrest opens the juridical procedure at Paris Appeal Court and later expected to be transferred to the custody of the international criminal court in the Hague, Netherlands and Arusha, Tanzania.

In due procedures the fugitive would then be brought before UN judges, an IRMCT spokesman said.

Barkhane: French soldier killed in Mali

French soldier Kévin Clément, 21, belonged to the 1st foreign regiment of cavalry of Carpiagne (Bouches-du-Rhône) engaged in Sahel since February within the Barkhane force, died in combat in Liptako, Mali, in the morning on May 4, during a “sweeping action against armed terrorist groups” in the area known as “three borders“.

The press release from the CEMA services specifies that two jihadists were “neutralised“, but that the first class legionnaire Kévin Clément, boarded in a light armored vehicle, was seriously wounded by enemy fire.

His death was declared later at the surgical unit in Gao, Mali, despite immediate care by the medical team of his unit. AFP reported he succumbed to the head injury.

During this combat operation, 1st class Kévin Clément, boarded in a light armored vehicle, was seriously injured by enemy fire. Immediately taken in charge by the medical team deployed within the unit, he was evacuated by helicopter towards the surgical unit in Gao, where his death was announced in the official press release.

A Reaper drone was immediately engaged to contribute to securing the unit, and revealed that the tactical sub-group had been engaged in a combat encounter with isolated terrorist elements.

In a press release, Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces, underlined that “the legionnaire Clément joins in the ultimate sacrifice his comrade Brigadier Dmytro Martynyouk, who died on May 1. This heavy tribute paid by the Foreign Legion does not undermine its determination or its effectiveness… ”

The Ministry of the Armed Forces, and in particular the Army, are alongside the family of 1st class legionnaire Kévin Clément and all the soldiers of Operation Barkhane” added the official press release.

The Minister of the Armed Forces bowed to the engagement of the 1st class legionnaire Kévin Clément who served France until the end of his mission,” With honor and loyalty “as the motto of the Foreign Legion so aptly puts it” wrote Florence Parly. “France never forgets any of those who chose it and fought for her,” said the ministerial press release.

In recent weeks, the French army has multiplied the offensives in this region of the Sahel, claiming the “neutralization” of several dozen jihadists in total since the beginning of the year. Barkhane’s workforce has recently increased from 4,500 to 5,100 soldiers. Paris hopes that this reinforcement will make it possible to reverse the balance of forces on the ground, where jihadist groups have multiplied the attacks in recent months.

COVID19: Cote d’Ivoire PM evacuated to France

Cote d’Ivoire Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly (61), the candidate in October’s presidential election from the ruling party, was evacuated on May 2 to France for medical examinations, the presidency informed.

The brief statement from the presidency on May 3 provided no further details about Gon Coulibaly’s condition. Gon Coulibaly self-isolated in late March because of possible exposure to the coronavirus, but the COVID-19 test was negative.

Defence Minister Hamed Bakayoko, who recovered from the coronavirus last month, will serve as interim Prime minister in Gon Coulibaly’s absence, the statement said.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara designated Gon Coulibaly in March as the ruling RHDP party’s candidate for the presidential election after excluding a third term himself.

Ivory Coast has recorded more than 1,300 cases of the coronavirus, one of the highest totals in West Africa, and 15 deaths.

Ukrainian soldier killed in Sahel

French Foreign Legion soldier died from injuries after anti-jihadist operation in Mali: Brigadier Dymyto Martynyouk was struck by an improvised explosive device during an “operation against terrorist groups” on April 23. He died from wounds on Mai 1, the Army announced in a communiqué.

In the late afternoon of April 23, a Barkhane Force military tanker was hit by an improvised explosive device in Liptako (Mali) while the unit to which it belonged was engaged in an operation against armed groups of terrorists.

Both injured in the vehicle were immediately taken care of by the medical team deployed alongside them, while a Cayman helicopter, escorted by a Tiger helicopter, was engaged to provide medical evacuation to the Gao base surgical centre.

The two soldiers were evacuated to France on April 24 in order to be able to apply the appropriate care.

Brigadier Dmytro Martynyouk of the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment died on May 1 of his injuries. His comrade’s condition is stable, and his vital prognosis is not in jeopardy.

The Chief of the Defense Staff, General François Lecointre, bowed with deep sadness to the memory of this soldier who died for France. All his thoughts are with his family and his brothers in arms. (Image: illustration)

Soro extradition unlikely

Cote d’Ivoire Guillaume Soro (47), the presidential candidate, has been convicted in absentia of embezzlement and money laundering. Soro was once an ally of incumbent President Alessane Ouattara. He commanded a rebel force which backed Quattara in his struggle against President Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to accept the results of 2010 elections.

Soro, who has been a rebel leader and Prime minister, was accused of buying a house with public money, the allegations he vehemently denied, while his lawyers boycotted the trial, announcing it politically motivated, paving the way to exclude him from October’s election.

Soro’s property in Abidjan, was confiscated and he was also barred from civic duties for five years. Soro was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, 4.5 billion FCFA (6.8 million euros) in fines, the confiscation” of his house, deprivation of his civil rights, and ordered to pay 2 billion FCFA (3 million euros) in damages to the state of Côte d’Ivoire.

The verdict was announced after a trial that lasted only a few hours. Soro was not present as he lives in exile in France.

President Alassane Ouattara “who today wears dictator’s clothes with great ease, submits justice to his boot and orders political killings against his rivals in order to exclude them from the electoral competition, embodies the worst version of the African leader,” he said.

“He quickly forgot that the justice system he is manipulating today is the same one that decreed him ineligible a few years ago (…) The rest we all know: he became president,” he added.

However the extradition of Soro is not obvious, because of poor Human rights record of Cote d’Ivoire, which i major factor taken into consideration by the French justice while considering extradition requests.

Sudanese refugee kills two Frenchmen

A knife attack in Romans-sur-Isère (pictured) southeastern France a Soudanaise refugee has killed two people, and left several others injured. The incident took place in morning hours around 10:45 on April 4, Holy Saturday, at eve of Catholic celebration of Easter. A terror investigation is now underway suspecting deliberate premeditated action.

Five people were reported to have been wounded, and two killed one of them a man(44) who attempted to protect his wife and child (13). Minster of Interior Christophe Castaner visited the community of Romans-sur-Isère the same day.
The assailant has now been identified as Abdallah A.Osman, reported to be in his 30s, born in 1987 according to his affidavit. He is in a regular situation in France. The Ofpra – French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons – granted him refugee status on June 29, 2017, and therefore in possession of a 10-year residence permit. Presumably he did not work, but received an allocation for refugees, and social housing.

Witnesses told local press that the assailant appeared to target random pedestrians while moving around empty streets in the center of the town.
Anyone who had the misfortune to find themselves in his way were attacked,” the town’s mayor, Marie-Helene Thoraval, told AFP.

First assailant entered press-tobacco shop, attacking a man (63), and his wife, both injured, then he left his knife there and headed to a boucher’s shop, where he jumped over the desk to get a bigger knife before killing a client (55); he fled after, and started to search for new victims in the empty streets. Further he injured one more pedestrian (59) next to the supermarket, and a man (44), who opened window shutters. A man (63) and his wife (63), who were walking along the street were next victims of the attack.

Counterterrorism prosecutors have initiated a probe into “murder linked to a terrorist enterprise.”
David Olivier Reverdy, from the National Police Alliance union, said the assailant had called on the police to kill him when they came to arrest him.
He was found on his knees on the pavement praying in Arabic,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

President Emmanuel Macron has called it “an odious act“.

The national anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office said that the preliminary investigation has “brought to light a determined, murderous course likely to seriously disturb public order through intimidation or terror.”
France is currently on lockdown as it battles the coronavirus pandemic. People are allowed to go grocery shopping but are encouraged to stay at least two meters (six feet) from others.

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