Level After Action in Mali, Somalia
The French president says the country will raise its domestic terror threat level after military action in Mali and Somalia, promising to increase protection at public buildings and transportation networks.
President Francois Hollande said Saturday he had ordered increased security after the French military operations in the two African countries against Islamist forces.
France has some of the world's most recognizable monuments and a wide-ranging national transportation network; like the U.S., it also has an organized government response if there are specific fears of a terrorist attack.
French aircraft and troops are backing soldiers in Mali who are trying to push back Islamist offensives; in Somalia, French commandos launched a failed raid to rescue an intelligence agent held hostage there for three years.
With Islamist militants controlling more than half of the northwest African nation of Mali and threatening the rest of government-held territory, France launched airstrikes in a dramatic escalation of the conflict that some observers have called the next Afghanistan. French commandoes also reportedly attacked an Islamist base in Somalia to try to rescue a French hostage.
The raid early Saturday in Somalia could have been aimed at preventing al-Shabbab fighters from harming the kidnapped French security official in reprisal for the French military intervention in Mali. A Somali intelligence official...said the raid in Bulomarer killed "several" al-Shabbab fighters but he had no information on the hostage.
An al-Shabbab official confirmed the fighting and said the group held one dead French soldier. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
However, the office of Col. Thierry Burkhard, the French military's main spokesman for overseas operations, said it had no information about any Somalia action.
Hollande said the "terrorist groups, drug traffickers and extremists" in northern Mali "show a brutality that threatens us all." He vowed that the operation would last "as long as necessary."
France said it was taking the action in Mali at the request of President Dioncounda Traore, who declared a state of emergency because of the militants' advance.
The arrival of the French troops in their former colony came a day after the Islamists moved the closest yet toward territory still under government control and fought the Malian military for the first time in months, seizing the strategic city of Konna.
Sanda Abou Moahmed, a spokesman for the Ansar Dine group, condemned Mali's president for seeking military help from its former colonizer...
For the past nine months, the Islamic militants have controlled a large swath of northern Mali, a lawless desert region where kidnapping has flourished.
"French armed forces supported Malian units this afternoon to fight against terrorist elements," Hollande said in Paris.
He did not give any details of the operation, other than to say that it was aimed in part at protecting the 6,000 French citizens in Mali, where seven of them already are being held captive.
Saturday's raid in Somalia was swift and loud, local residents said. The Somali intelligence official said the French commandos were trying to rescue a kidnapped military adviser who they were tipped off was being held there. A French security adviser was kidnapped by the militant Islamist group al-Shabbab in Mogadishu, the capital, in 2009.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 01/10/2013
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