France condemns Mali attacks as bid to wreck peace hopes

9th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday condemned the weekend attacks in Mali as an attempt to wreck the country's prospects of sealing a newly signed peace deal.

"These attacks are attacks on peace... At a time when we are just metres from peace, hostile forces are trying to intervene to wreck this perspective," he told a news conference in the Moroccan capital.

"Our determination should be even stronger," Fabius said.

He called for Malian rebels to sign up to an internationally backed peace accord which Bamako signed in Algiers on March 1.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has "recommended that all parties sign this accord. I hope this will be the case," Fabius said.

On Saturday, a heavily armed gunman burst into La Terrasse, a popular Bamako venue among expatriates, and killed five people including a French national and a Belgian.

"We are still standing," Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said in a defiant first public reaction after visiting La Terrasse.

"Those who dared claim this attack will pay dearly," he said, adding that they "have failed and will fail" to spread fear.

Government spokesman Choguel Maiga urged the predominantly Tuareg rebellion in the restive north to rubber-stamp the March 1 peace agreement.

The main Tuareg rebel alliance has asked for more time to consult its grassroots.

"It is clear that every time negotiations get to a crucial phase... the enemies of peace come out from whatever corners they lurk in to sabotage the agreement," he added.

Al-Murabitoun, a jihadist group run by leading Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, claimed responsibility for the assault.

Fears over security mounted further on Sunday when a Chadian peacekeeper and two Malian children were killed as militants shelled a UN base in the rebel stronghold of Kidal in northeast Mali.

Jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda controlled an area of Malian desert the size of Texas for more than nine months until a French-led military intervention in 2013 partly drove them from the region.

© 2015 AFP

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