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Jan 11 2016

Emptying the canal

(AFP/Patrick Kovarik)

(AFP/Patrick Kovarik)

(AFP/Patrick Kovarik)



"It’s a ritual that unfolds every 10 to 15 years in what has become one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Paris. Canal Saint Martin is emptied in order to be cleaned and renovated," writes AFP's photographer Patrick Kovarik.

"A great occasion for residents and the curious alike to see what has been lying below the waters. Turns out the canal is not only one of the city’s favorite socializing spots. It’s also a favorite trashcan."

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Dec 30 2015

The 15 most-read stories in 2015

© AFP - 2015
© AFP - 2015

(AFP)


These were the 15 most-read stories in 2015 on our AFP Correspondent blog. We wish all our readers a happy New Year.


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Dec 9 2015

Where attacks have no name

Bodies of victims from a twin bomb blasts in the central city of Jos, which killed 44 people, are prepared for burial, July, 2015. (AFP/stringer)

Bodies of victims from a twin bomb blasts in the central city of Jos, which killed 44 people, are prepared for burial, July, 2015. (AFP/stringer)

(AFP/stringer)



When France held a memorial service for victims of the November Paris attacks, television channels in Nigeria broadcast it. The ceremony came a day before the first anniversary of a similar attack in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, writes Aminu Abubakar, AFP's correspondent based there.

In the Kano attack, at least 120 people were killed and hundreds more injured after gunmen opened fire on Muslim faithful who had just begun their Friday prayers at the city's mosque. Suicide bombers then blew themselves up among the fleeing crowds.

"But unlike in Paris, the names and photographs of the victims haven't been published in newspapers or broadcast around the world. The date of the attack hasn't been seared into the national consciousness. In fact, 12 months on, we're still not exactly sure how many lost their lives.

"On the eve of the anniversary, as television showed the French memorial, it was business as usual in Kano, apart from prayers for peace at mosques across the city. The president didn't visit, there were no cabinet ministers, military or first responders from the scene standing with their heads bowed as the national anthem played."


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Nov 19 2015

The truths, the half truths and the lies

Police take up positions during the attacks. (AFP/Dominique Faget)

Police take up positions during the attacks. (AFP/Dominique Faget)

(AFP/Dominique Faget)



The November 13 attacks in Paris unleashed an unprecedented storm of rumour and speculation on social media, surpassing the tidal wave that accompanied the Charlie Hebdo assaults in and around the French capital in January, writes Gregoire Lemarchand, the head of AFP's social media unit. This time around, the late hour of the strikes and the fact that they occurred almost simultaneously in several locations helped feed the rumor mill. But at the same time, there was less irresponsible content and less conspiracy theories than ten months earlier. It was as if lessons had been learned.

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Nov 18 2015

Lives cut short

The makeshift memorial at Le Carillon. (AFP/Loic Venance)

The makeshift memorial at Le Carillon. (AFP/Loic Venance)

(AFP/Loic Venance)



Their names were Bertrand, Chloe, Halima or Thierry. They were a student, a banker, a mechanic or a waiter. Most were in their 20s and 30s. All died in the Paris attacks of November 13 or in the days that followed from their injuries. 

A small team of AFP journalists was put in place after the tragedy to try and collect at least a few personal details about each of the victims. The result is an interactive database, so that the death toll is not just a number, and so each victim has a face.



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Nov 15 2015

'War' in Paris

People run near Place de la Republique late on November 13. (AFP/Dominique Faget)

People run near Place de la Republique late on November 13. (AFP/Dominique Faget)

(AFP/Dominique Faget)



"Over the past few days I’ve heard a lot of people speak of “scenes of war,” of “a situation of war,” of “war medicine,” writes AFP photographer Dominique Faget, one of the first to get to the scene of the Paris attacks on Friday, November 13. "But you have to put things in perspective. On Friday... we witnessed a series of terrorist attacks in Paris, blind massacres, the worst attacks the French capital has seen since the liberation in World War II. But this is not a war."

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Oct 6 2015

Air Rage - Air France execs flee employee mob

Air France human resources chief Xavier Broseta, his clothes torn, scales a fence to escape a crowd of angry employees. (AFP/Kenzo Tribouillard) Air France human resources chief Xavier Broseta, his clothes torn, scales a fence to escape a crowd of angry employees. (AFP/Kenzo Tribouillard)

Air France human resources chief Xavier Broseta, his clothes torn, scales a fence to escape a crowd of angry employees. (AFP/Kenzo Tribouillard)



AFP photographer Kenzo Tribouillard came to Paris's airport on Monday expecting to cover a typical demonstration by Air France employees over management's plans to cut costs at the struggling national carrier. Then things quickly got out of hand.



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Oct 1 2015

Taking pictures in the Calais 'Jungle'

Some of the tents that make up the 'Jungle' (AFP/Philippe Huguen) Some of the tents that make up the 'Jungle' (AFP/Philippe Huguen)

(AFP / Philippe Huguen)


The French town of Calais has been a magnet for refugees and migrants trying to reach Britain ever since the Channel Tunnel opened in 1994, allowing trains and automobiles to race under the waters. 

Until recently, the migrants arrived in the region, stayed a bit and moved on, most of them finding one way or another to sneak across the waters into England.

But lately the authorities have made stealing across the waters more and more difficult and a bottleneck has developed – the migrants already here can’t find a way across and more keep arriving. 

Today they live in an area dubbed the “Jungle” – a small town of tents and shacks. AFP’s photographer in the nearby city of Lille, Philippe Huguen, has been photographing the migrants in Calais for more than 15 years. Here he shares what’s it like taking pictures in the Calais “Jungle.”



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Jun 30 2015

Embedded in Mali

A French armoured vehicle leaves Goundam on June 3, 2015 in the Timbuktu region, northern Mali, during a joint operation with Malian army forces as part of the anti-terrorist Operation Barkhane (AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES) A French armoured vehicle leaves Goundam on June 3, 2015 in the Timbuktu region, northern Mali, during a joint operation with Malian army forces as part of the anti-terrorist Operation Barkhane (AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES)

(AFP Photo / Philippe Desmazes)


"The thermometer in the foyer is stuck on 50 degrees Celsius. The highest it can go," writes AFP's Michel Moutot. "It’s not yet noon on the French army base at Timbuktu airport."

"Why did AFP ask to follow a French army unit into Mali's lawless north? Two reasons. Firstly, to report on the soldiers actions on the ground. Secondly to gain access, under the protection of the army, to one of a rising number of places in the world where reporters can no longer venture alone without risk of kidnapping or death."

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Jun 26 2015

European hostages: mining the data

Members of French army special force take part in a mock hostage release exercise, on April 15, 2015 on a beach in Arcachon, southwestern France, as part of the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS). (AFP PHOTO / MEHDI FEDOUACH) Members of French army special force take part in a mock hostage release exercise, on April 15, 2015 on a beach in Arcachon, southwestern France, as part of the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS). (AFP PHOTO / MEHDI FEDOUACH)

(AFP Photo / Mehdi Fedouach)


"How many times have I heard this refrain since joining AFP nearly 20 years ago: ‘With millions of stories in our archives, we’re sitting on top of an information gold mine’," writes the journalist Marlowe Hood. "The European Hostage Project is a serious attempt to extract some of that buried treasure. A case study in data journalism, it uncovered patterns in the terrible traffic in hostages from Europe that up to now remained elusive if not invisible."

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The fate of Europe's hostages since 2000

Journalists hold portraits of fellow French reporters held hostage in Afghanistan Stephane Taponier and Herve Ghesquiere in Strasbourg, eastern France,  on November 18, 2010 ( AFP PHOTO / PATRICK HERTZOG) Journalists hold portraits of fellow French reporters held hostage in Afghanistan Stephane Taponier and Herve Ghesquiere in Strasbourg, eastern France,  on November 18, 2010 ( AFP PHOTO / PATRICK HERTZOG)

(AFP Photo / Patrick Hertzog)


Some 400 European nationals have been taken hostage on foreign soil since 2000 - with more than one in ten dying in detention, according to a data-mining study of AFP news archives covering the period. The study, carried out jointly by AFP and a team of 10 journalism students from the Institut Français de Presse, analysed the contents of more than 40,000 AFP dispatches published between January 1, 2000 and March 31, 2015.

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Hostages for sale in Syria

A Free Syrian army's fighter gestures asking drivers to slow down to prevent accidents on September 13, 2013 in the outskirts of Saraqib, southwest of Aleppo. (AFP PHOTO / GIOVANNI DIFFIDENTI) A Free Syrian army's fighter gestures asking drivers to slow down to prevent accidents on September 13, 2013 in the outskirts of Saraqib, southwest of Aleppo. (AFP PHOTO / GIOVANNI DIFFIDENTI)

(AFP Photo / Giovanni Diffidenti)

"Pierre Piccinin da Prata describes himself as a historian and political scientist, but his work is more like a war reporter’s," writes Robin Braquet. "The Belgian researcher has travelled to Syria more than a dozen times. On one occasion, he almost didn’t make it home. In 2013, he was betrayed by a faction of the rebel Free Syrian Army and handed over to a group of hostage-takers."

"The FSA are portrayed in the West as Syria’s moderate rebels, opposed to both President Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State group. Yet some of the group’s members are now known to have sold hostages to the jihadists, enticed by the high price offered for a captive Westerner."

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Holding on to the little things

Francis Collomp's notebook from his time in captivity (Gregoire Belhoste) Francis Collomp's notebook from his time in captivity (Gregoire Belhoste)

(Gregoire Belhoste)

"During the three months he spent as a captive in the Malian desert, Pierre Camatte had a ritual," writes Gregoire Belhoste. "Each morning he would write in the sand the number of days since he was seized, and tie another knot on a string plucked from his headscarf before burying it deep in his pocket. A notebook, a transistor radio, a piece of string: for people in a long-term hostage situation a tiny object is sometimes all that stands in the way of despair. Long after their ordeal comes to an end, many still cling on to these small things."

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Jun 18 2015

Slashed by a sea monster

A racing officials' boat is hit by part of the Spindrift 2 Multihull (L) on June 16, 2015, just before the start of the 9th Leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, off the coast of Lorient, western France (AFP PHOTO / JEAN-SEBASTIEN  EVRARD) A racing officials' boat is hit by part of the Spindrift 2 Multihull (L) on June 16, 2015, just before the start of the 9th Leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, off the coast of Lorient, western France (AFP PHOTO / JEAN-SEBASTIEN  EVRARD)

(AFP Photo / Jean-Sebastien Evrard)

"The Spindrift 2 is the world’s largest racing trimaran. An extraordinary sailboat. Forty metres long, it holds a round-the-world record and frequently hits speeds of more than 45 knots – or 85 kilometres per hour," writes the AFP photographer Jean-Sebastien Evrard. "At full speed, its rudders and daggerboards are sharp as razor blades. Not something you wish to see hurtling towards you out at sea. Yet that is what I witnessed, on June 16 in the afternoon, off the coast from Lorient in Brittany."

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May 26 2015

‘Journalist scum’ and the Cannes glitterati

A photo taken with a mobile phone shows a woman distributing the local newspaper's festival edition outside the Festival palace during the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 14, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHE) A photo taken with a mobile phone shows a woman distributing the local newspaper's festival edition outside the Festival palace during the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 14, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHE)

(AFP / Valery Hache)


"Two floors above us is an impossible level of glamour, people of such mind-bending charisma that the mere sight of them walking on carpet can set off a frenzy of shutter clicks and hysterical screaming," writes Eric Randolph, fresh from covering the 68th Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera. "But pan down through the floors into the basement, and things are decidedly less glamorous."

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May 19 2015

The extraordinary life of 'Doña Anna'

Anna Kipper, AFP's first female bureau chief, in her office in Bogota in the 1970s (Photo: El Tiempo) Anna Kipper, AFP's first female bureau chief, in her office in Bogota in the 1970s (Photo: El Tiempo)

(El Tiempo)


She was an extraordinary journalist, who lived an extraordinary life. Anna Kipper was a Polish Jew driven from Europe during World War II who went on to become AFP’s first female bureau chief, in Bogota in 1946. A reporter whose career mirrored the upheavals of the 20th century, from Europe to Latin America. This is her story, told by Yves Gacon, AFP's director of archives and publishing.

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May 13 2015

'If you find my dead body…'

French far-right Front National (FN) founder Jean-Marie Le Pen sings at the foot of a statue of Joan of Arc at the party's annual May 1 rally in Paris in 2015. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON) French far-right Front National (FN) founder Jean-Marie Le Pen sings at the foot of a statue of Joan of Arc at the party's annual May 1 rally in Paris in 2015. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON)

(AFP / Thomas Samson)


"Jean-Marie Le Pen is a complex character, both an erudite with a rich knowledge of history and a relentless provocateur. It takes time to figure him out," writes Guillaume Daudin, who covers the National Front for AFP. "Le Pen may be physically diminished. But he is far from the senile old man some would paint him as. He knows exactly what he is doing."

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Apr 20 2015

Backstories: the photographer and the map

US marines officers from the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines are briefed about their initial mission in the event of a strike against Iraq, 13 March 2003 in Camp Shoup in northern of Kuwait. (AFP PHOTO/ERIC FEFERBERG)
US marines officers from the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines are briefed about their initial mission in the event of a strike against Iraq, 13 March 2003 in Camp Shoup in northern of Kuwait. (AFP PHOTO/ERIC FEFERBERG)

(AFP Photo / Eric Feferberg)


In Backstories, a new video series by Laurent Kalfala and Sylvain Estibal, AFP journalists take us behind the scenes of a powerful moment in their career.

For the first installment, Eric Feferberg tells the extraordinary tale of this picture, taken on March 13, 2003 in a US military camp in Kuwait where 130,000 troops were preparing to invade Iraq. Invited to photograph this officers' briefing - and the top-secret map in the background - he had little idea of the storm that would ensue.

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Apr 2 2015

Waiting game on a Swiss lake

US Secretary of State John Kerry looks out of the window of his room at the Beau-Rivage Palace hotel during a break in Iran nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 1, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI) US Secretary of State John Kerry looks out of the window of his room at the Beau-Rivage Palace hotel during a break in Iran nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 1, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)

(AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)


"For the past week I have been with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Switzerland in the marathon search for a nuclear deal with Iran," writes AFP photographer Brendan Smialowski. "Covering negotiations like these is as much about official photo ops as behind-the-scenes moments and features. As the negotiations dragged on, the ops got fewer and fewer, then dried up completely. But a photojournalist can go hunting for other moments to illustrate the story."

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Mar 31 2015

Twitter and news agencies: BFF or frenemies?

A Brazil fan uses a mobile phone prior to the third place play-off football match between Brazil and Netherlands during the 2014 FIFA World Cup at the National Stadium in Brasilia on July 12, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN) A Brazil fan uses a mobile phone prior to the third place play-off football match between Brazil and Netherlands during the 2014 FIFA World Cup at the National Stadium in Brasilia on July 12, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN)

(AFP Photo / Odd Andersen)


"A lot of (mostly virtual) ink has been spilt on the looming threat of Twitter to so-called ‘legacy’ news media," writes AFP journalist Marlowe Hood. "Agencies such as AFP, Reuters and the Associated Press (AP) – global wholesalers that gather and sell content to other media – were said to be especially vulnerable to the 500+ million mini-messages that course through Twitter every day, blanketing the planet on every subject imaginable."

"This is the story of how Agence France-Presse and Twitter tied the knot, paving the way for AFP to make and market a novel news service situated somewhere near the crossroads of Social Network Ave. and News Agency Blvd."

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