Correspondent / behind the news

Searching for insurgents in northern Mali

Friday 8 November 2013 - Eye witness

A French troop participates in Operation Hydra in the north of Mali, patrolling near a the village of Bamba. October 30, 2103. (AFP Photo / Philippe Desmazes)

AFP photographer Philippe Desmazes recently completed an assignment embedded with the French army in remote northern Mali, where a war against Islamist insurgents continues. His visit to the desert coincided with the deaths of two colleagues from Radio France Internationale, who were killed in Kidal.

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Dining with Ghislaine Dupont, a legend of French radio

Monday 4 November 2013 - Eye witness

Portraits of the journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, killed in Mali, outside the RFI headquarters. The sign reads: "RFI and all French media are in mourning.

Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, two journalists with Radio France Internationale (RFI), were found dead Saturday after being kidnapped in Mali's troubled northeast. They were on their way to interview a spokesman for the Tuareg separatist group in the rebel stronghold of Kidal when they were abducted outside his home. AFP journalist Jean-Pierre Campagne, who knew Dupont well after covering the fall of Mobutu in Zaire in 1997, pays tribute to a slain colleague.

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In Mali, French president can do no wrong

Monday 15 April 2013 - Eye witness

A portrait of French President Francois Hollande is seen in a market stall selling brushes at a street market in Bamako on March 6, 2013.

French President Francois Hollande is under fire for a tax-fraud scandal and a moribund economy, but there is at least one place he can turn to for steadfast support: Mali. AFP’s Stephane Jourdain finds a wave of pro-French fervor in the former French colony, where French troops are leading a military offensive against Islamist rebels who less than a year ago controlled half of the country. (AFP Photo/John MacDougall)

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Desert patrol: Tracking Islamists in Mali

Wednesday 20 March 2013 - Behind the image

This picture taken on March 15, 2013 shows French soldiers patrolling in the Adrar of the Ifoghas mountains.
AFP Photo/K. Tribouillard

Desert patrol: Tracking Islamists in Mali

"Scorching heat from above (the sun) and below (stones); black rocks so jagged they rip the military apparel on the soldiers with whom I am embedded; soot-like sand so invasive it sears my eyes and jams their guns; an enemy – never visible, always nearby – hell-bent on carrying out a holy war." This is how AFP photographer Kenzo Tribouillard describes the mountainous region along the Mali-Algeria border where he followed French troops tracking Islamist fighters. Here are his photos, and his report. 

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Front-row seat for liberation of Mali town

Tuesday 19 February 2013 - Eye witness

Locals welcome French soldiers in Bourem northen Mali on February 17, 2013.

AFP photographer Pascal Guyot was embedded with French and Malian troops as they secured a strategic Malian town on the north bank of the Niger River, recently in the hands of hardline Islamist rebels who had taken over the country’s vast northern reaches. Here’s his account of the liberation of Bourem.

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Unmasking a controversy in Mali

Tuesday 22 January 2013 - Behind the image

A French soldier wearing a skeleton mask stands next to a an armoured vehicle in a street in Niono, on January 20, 2013.

Unmasking a controversy in Mali

This image captured by AFP photographer Issouf Sanogo in Mali quickly caused a stir in the French army, with top brass condemning the masked soldier’s behaviour as “unacceptable.” But the story behind the striking image, taken as French and Malian troops headed toward Mali’s Islamist-held north in a bid to regain control of the immense desert area, is rather more banal than the photograph might suggest.

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Timbuktu's ancient treasures under siege

Tuesday 10 July 2012 - Eye witness

Islamist rebel expresses joy at the destruction of the shrines (AFP)

Islamists controlling northern Mali have demolished several ancient shrines and even the sacred door of a 15th-century mosque in Timbuktu, an endangered world heritage site. AFP has obtained rare footage of the destruction, which has sparked international outrage. But it was not without difficulties: our Bamako-based correspondent, Serge Daniel, tells us how he got the images. (AFP Photo)

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