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French forces launched two nighttime raids in northern Mali against Islamist fighters linked to the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Mokhtar Belmokhtar's Those Who Sign in Blood Brigade; the two groups united in August to form the al-Murabitoon Brigade. Over 100 French troops took part in the recent operations near Timbuktu and in the Ifhogas mountains. The UN Security Council today urged member states to support the full deployment of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, which is currently at less than half strength, and warned that terrorists have regrouped in Mali and regained the ability to operate.

German Military Faces a Difficult Year in Africa and Afghanistan

France to bolster military presence in Africa

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali said five of its troops were injured when their vehicle ran over a land mine 20 miles outside of Kidal. A 395-member contingent of Chinese troops has arrived in Mali to join the UN mission.

Desert gives al Qaeda refuge after Mali defeat

Sahel military forces train together

Security forces in Timbuktu have arrested Houka Houka Ag Alfousseyni, who served as an Islamic judge for Ansar Dine in the area. The UN's Mali envoy warned that security in the country remains precarious, evidenced by an upswing in terrorist attacks in late 2013. The UN mission in Mali is currently at only half of the planned 11,200 troops, and less than a quarter of its police element is in place.

From Falluja to Maghreb, a new, diffuse al Qaeda

France in Mali: A year of hunting jihadists in West Africa

Al-Qaeda hasn't gone away, and is gaining

The French air force has performed its first operational flight using an A400M tactical transport, delivering 22 tonnes of supplies for Operation Serval in northern Mali. On the same flight was French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who warned that although Mali was almost secure, continued vigilance was needed. He said France would continue to back up Malian and MINUSMA forces "for as long as it takes" and that "we are all preparing to move towards a regional approach" as "the threat of destabilization is everywhere." He plans to return on Jan. 20 to sign a military accord between France and Mali.

Record number of UN peacekeepers fails to stop African wars

Al Qaeda documents show obsession with keeping receipts, down to a $0.60 cake

The UN said French and Chadian troops have destroyed almost six tonnes of explosives and weapons that they found recently in two caches located about 95 miles southwest of Tessalit. In September nearly a tonne of explosives was found near Anefis.

The government has filed treason charges against former President Amadou Toumani, who was ousted by a military coup in April 2013. He is accused of "naming incompetent officers and soldiers, whose patriotism was questionable, to high-level posts." The Defense Ministry recently announced the arrest of Aliou Mahamar Toure, the brutal former chief of Islamic Police in Gao; he was reportedly detained while driving a scooter near Bourem.

US adds Belmokhtar's brigades to terrorist lists

Mokhtar Belmokhtar's al-Mulathameen Brigade is behind terror attacks in Niger, Algeria, and Mali. Its "aliases," the al-Murabitoon Brigade and al Mua'qi'oon Biddam, have also been added to the US's lists of terror groups.

A suicide car bombing in Kidal killed two Senegalese members of the UN peacekeeping force and destroyed the only operating bank in the town. Several other people were seriously injured, and more casualties are feared from the collapse of the bank building. In the town of Teringuite, at least 80 militants from the al Qaeda-linked Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) led by commander Abou Dardar attacked a Tuareg camp and killed two people.

Organised crime and terrorism among big threats facing the Sahel

French military forces have killed 19 Islamist militants during an ongoing operation north of Timbuktu. The French operation, said to involve a large number of troops and about 100 military vehicles and helicopters, was launched last week against al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb fighters in the area between the communes of Bouje-Baya and Arouane. A local security source said "there are a lot of jihadi movements" in the area.

An AP reporter's quest to find bodies of victims killed by Malian military ends in the desert