France says forces 'destroyed' Al-Qaeda arms convoy in Niger

10th October 2014, Comments 0 comments

France said Friday its forces had "destroyed" an Al-Qaeda convoy in Niger carrying a large amount of weapons from Libya to Mali.

The convoy, belonging to Al-Qaeda's north African branch, was "intercepted and destroyed (Thursday) night in northern Niger... carrying weapons from Libya to Mali," said a statement from the French presidency.

"The operation allowed us to seize a large quantity of weapons and to neutralise the transporters, some of whom were captured."

The statement did not detail casualties.

French troops have remained in the Sahel since an intervention in Mali in January 2013 to chase out hardline Islamists, including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which had seized control of the country's northern desert cities.

The operation has been replaced by a wider counter-terrorism operation, codenamed Barkhane, in five countries along the southern rim of the Sahara.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said around 3,000 French soldiers will be part of the operation, 1,000 of whom will stay in northern Mali.

Drones, helicopters, fighter jets, armoured vehicles and transport planes are also taking part in Operation Barkhane -- the name of a crescent-shaped sand dune in the desert -- which will have its headquarters in the Chadian capital N'Djamena.

© 2014 AFP

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