Macron Affirms French Support for West African Counter-Terrorism Force

West Africa and France must work together to eradicate terrorism, French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday, opening a summit in Bamako, Mali on forming a regional anti-jihadist force.

"Every day we face these terrorists, thugs, assassins whose names and faces we must forget but whom we must steadfastly and with determination eradicate together, and eradicate them because they are doing it today, in the name of dividing people, in the name of a religion that is yours, and that you have rightly saluted, Mr. President, but which they distort to give it the face of ignorance and hatred," Macron said, addressing his Malian counterpart, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Macron said that France would provide military support, as well as 70 tactical vehicles, for a new multinational force dedicated to fighting terrorists in the region.

Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger � the so-called G5 Sahel � have said they are coming together to provide troops to combat rising insecurity and jihadist attacks affecting their countries.

The G-5 Sahel troops would bolster the 4,000 French troops and the 11,000 UN peacekeepers already operating in the region.

As the six leaders addressed the rising threat of jihadist attacks in their countries, an al-Qaida affiliated group, Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, released a "proof of life" video showing six Western hostages it has taken over the past few years.

One of the hostages seen in the video clip released Saturday is Frenchwoman Sophie Petronin, who was kidnapped from the Malian city of Gao in December.

The French leader said France would "put all our energy towards eradicating" those responsible for kidnapping Petronin.

Macron visited Gao in northern Mali in May, his first trip outside Europe as president, and said French troops would remain "until the day there is no more Islamic terrorism in the region."

Source: Voice of America