French Citizens Among Radical Fighters In Mali, Minister Says

A Frenchman was captured among jihadists fighting international forces in northern Mali and is being extradited to France, the French defense minister said Friday.
French forces are dealing with "determined terrorists" in Mali, said Defense Minister Jean Yves Le Drian, speaking to French radio station Europe 1 from the African nation's capital, Bamako.

And the presence of the French citizen among them, as well as a French-Algerian man who was arrested last weekend, demonstrates how northern Mali had become a magnet for extremists, he said.

"This shows that there existed a kind of terrorist war network, which would welcome young people in search of a radical destiny, as some have done in Afghanistan or Syria," he told the radio station.

The French-Algerian man, who was sought by French police, was detained by Malian officers in northern Mali, Le Drian said.

He was extradited Thursday to France, he said.

"We knew that this part of Mali was potentially the sanctuary of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. We were not mistaken, this is the case," Le Drian said. 

"We are dealing with determined terrorists, who are heavily armed and who are waging significant battles and inflicting major damage."

Islamist extremists carved out a large haven in northern Mali last year, taking advantage of a chaotic situation after a military coup by the separatist party MNLA. 

The militants banned music, smoking, drinking and watching sports on television. They also destroyed historic tombs and shrines.
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