1. French troops 'kill top al-Qaeda operative in Mali'

    French forces have killed Bah ag Moussa, a senior official of al-Qaeda’s North Africa wing, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly has said.

    He was one of the main assistants of Iyad Ag Ghaly - the leader of one of Mali's Islamist groups - Ms Parly said in a statement.

    "I congratulate our soldiers for this success which deprives Iyad Ag Ghaly of one of his main assistants. Their commitment, their courage and their selflessness make us strong and proud," she said.

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  2. Mali ex-president Amadou Toumani Touré dies

    Amadou Toumani Touré

    Former Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré has died aged 72.

    He died early Tuesday in Turkey where he was undergoing treatment. He arrived in Turkish commercial capital, Istanbul, a few days ago.

    Before his departure from Mali, he had undergone an emergency heart surgery in the capital, Bamako.

    He was Mali's president from 2002 until he was deposed by a military coup in March 2012 that was led by General Amadou Haya Sanogo.

    Mr Touré, an army general, was hailed for ending years of military rule and handing power to civilians after organising elections in 1992.

    He was nicknamed the "soldier of democracy".

  3. French air strikes in Mali kill dozens of militants

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A map of the Sahel region

    France says its forces have killed more than 50 jihadists in air strikes in central Mali.

    The French defence minister, Florence Parly, who is in Mali, said the al-Qaeda affiliated militants had been killed on Friday near the borders with Burkina Faso and Niger.

    She said weapons and other equipment had been seized.

    Ms Parly said France would continue to support the Malian army in its efforts against the jihadists, who operate across the Sahel.

    There had been concern that a coup in Mali in August would disrupt counter-insurgency efforts.

    More than 5,000 French troops are stationed in the region, but they have been unable to contain the militants.

    The vast semi-desert region is also affected by ethnic violence, human and drug trafficking, and banditry.

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  4. Suspected Islamists on trial for Mali hotel attack

    BBC World Service

    There's tight security at a court in the Malian capital, Bamako, where three alleged Islamists are standing trial on charges of planning and executing two attacks targeting foreigners in 2015.

    Only two of the accused were present; one, Fawaz Ould Ahmed, a Mauritanian who is seen as one of the leading jihadists in the Sahel, is charged with shooting six people at a nightclub and of planning the storming of the Radisson hotel in Bamako.

    A Russian flight crew, Chinese construction executives, a Belgian politician, an American aid worker and nine Malians were among the victims of the latter attack.

    It's rare for such cases to come to trial; much of the Sahel is beyond the control of national governments.

  5. Sahel worries top UN humanitarian 'most'

    The UN's humanitarian chief has told BBC Focus on Africa that the "place that worries [him] most" is the central Sahel.

    Mark Lowcock of Ocha pointed to conflicts arising from people having to compete for already strained resources - and the combination of "low development", high poverty, accelerating climate change and rapid population growth.

    "You're seeing clashes, for example, between farming families and families who make a living through nomadic pastoralism," Mr Lowcock said.

    "All of those things, together with the fact that this is not the region where the empowerment of women and girls is advanced as much as in some other places, are causing grievances."

    His comments come as the UN hopes to raise $1bn (£770m) with a virtual donor conference hosted with Denmark, Germany and the EU.

    Armed militia operate in the Sahel, which has become a frontline in the war against Islamist militancy for almost a decade.

    "The extremist groups are one manifestation of that, there's also an uptick in organised crime," Mr Lowcock told the BBC.

    He said that people being forced from their homes is "a symptom of these underlying problems".

    "Not much short of two million people are now displaced across the region - a massive increase over the last couple of years."

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    Video caption: Mark Lowcock says more than 13 million people in the region need help
  6. Mali civil servants demand release of colleagues

    Hundreds of civil servants in Mali demonstrated in the capital, Bamako, to call for the release of local administrators held by jihadists.

    The protesters walked to the prime minister's office on Thursday where they presented their petition.

    They said more than 10 local administrators were being held by the jihadists.

    Last week, the jihadists released French aid worker Sophie Pétronin, 75, and veteran opposition and former presidential candidate Soumaïla Cissé, 70,

    The releases are part of a deal that includes more than 100 imprisoned jihadists being set free by the authorities.

  7. Several killed in fresh Mali attacks

    Dozens of civilians and soldiers have been killed in a series of attacks in Mali. Two of the attacks targeted the army while one was towards civilians.

    A base in Sokoura near the border with Burkina Faso was the first to be attacked, according to an army statement.

    The number of soldiers who died in the attack has been placed at nine by news agencies.

    The attackers ambushed other soldiers near the base who were responding to the attack killing three of them.

    A vehicle transporting civilians to Bankass was attacked leaving 12 civilians dead, according to local mayor.

    This is the first time the country has experienced deadly attacks since the 18 August coup.

    Former President Ibrahim Keïta had been accused of failing to secure the country from attacks. Protesters called for his resignation for months until a military junta took over.

    A civilian transitional president has since been appointed and is deputised by the leader of the junta.

  8. Attackers kill nine civilians in Mali

    BBC World Service

    At least nine civilians have been killed in the Mopti region of central Mali.

    Officials are blaming the attack on al-Qaeda linked jihadists.

    The attackers - on motorbikes and in 4x4 vehicles - opened fire on people in Sokoura village who are from the Dogon ethnic group.

    Separate reports say several Malian soldiers were also killed.

    Last Friday nine civilians were killed in the Dogon village of Farabougou in Ségou region and 22 others were abducted.

    Violence between the Muslim cattle herding Fulani and the mostly farming Dogon community has been fuelled by the growing presence of Islamist militants in Mali.

  9. African Union lifts Mali's suspension over coup

    The African Union's Peace and Security Council has lifted Mali's suspension that was imposed following a military takeover of the country in August.

    The council has tweeted that Mali can now fully participate in all AU's activities:

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    Mali was suspended from the continental body in August soon after mutinous soldiers seized power and detained then President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

    The military junta has since handed power to a transitional civilian president, although high-ranking soldiers hold top positions in a new cabinet.

    The formation of a transitional government was a key demand before the lifting of Mali's suspension.

    The chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has welcomed the security council's decision to lift the suspension.

    He assured Mali of the "AU's full support to the transitional government and people of Mali towards constitutional order, peace and stability".

  10. Mali releases detained former Prime Minister

    Mali's former Prime Minister, Boubou Cissé
    Image caption: Boubou Cissé was among the detainees released

    The authorities in Mali have announced the release of a dozen political and military figures arrested during a coup in August.

    They include the former Prime Minister, Boubou Cissé.

    An official statement said the former detainees would remain at the disposition of the courts if needed.

    On Monday the transitional government announced a new cabinet in which members of the junta were handed several key posts including defence, security, territorial administration and national reconciliation.

    The West African regional bloc, Ecowas, has lifted sanctions on Mali, acknowledging what it called "notable advances towards constitutional normalisation".

  11. French hostage freed in Mali - family

    BBC World Service

    Sophie Pétronin
    Image caption: Sophie Pétronin, 75, was abducted in Mali in December 2016

    The family of the last French hostage held by Islamists in Mali say she has been released, though Malian and French authorities have not confirmed or denied the claim.

    Sophie Pétronin - a 75 year old aid worker - was on her way to the capital, Bamako, the family said on Tuesday.

    Ms Pétronin was abducted by al-Qaeda- linked gunmen in the northern city of Gao where she had been running a charity.

    Reports from Mali say that another hostage, the veteran opposition and former presidential candidate Soumaïla Cissé, 70, has also been released by the militants.

    Soumaila Cisse in Bamako
    Image caption: Soumaïla Cissé was abducted on the campaign trail

    He'd been held since March.

    There are indications that the releases are part of a deal that includes more than 100 imprisoned jihadists being set free by the authorities.

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  12. Son of kidnapped French aid worker travels to Mali

    BBC World Service

    The son of a French aid worker who was kidnapped by Islamist militants in Mali almost four years ago has said he is flying to the capital Bamako ahead of her possible release.

    Sophie Pétronin was seized by al-Qaeda linked gunmen in the northern city of Gao.

    She's thought to be the last French national held hostage anywhere in the world.

    In recent days around 130 imprisoned jihadists are reported to have been released in Mali as part of negotiations for the release of Ms Pétronin and the Malian opposition politician Soumaïla Cissé.

    The 75-year-old, three-time presidential candidate was abducted in March whilst campaigning in his home region of Niafunké ahead of legislative elections.

  13. Ecowas lifts Mali sanctions

    Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C) was the Ecowas mediator
    Image caption: Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C) was the Ecowas mediator

    The West African regional group - Ecowas - has lifted sanctions imposed on Mali following a coup that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August.

    This comes after military authorities formed a transitional government comprising of army officials and civilians.

    "Taking into account the notable progress made towards a constitutional normalisation, and the support the process, the heads of states have decided to lift the sanctions on Mali, and called on partners to support Mali," Ecowas said in a statement.

    Mali's transitional leaders announced a new government on Monday, with some of the top posts going to military officials.

    Col Bah Ndaw was named as interim president, and Moctar Ouane as prime minister.

  14. Mali's military takes key posts in new government

    Mali's transition President Bah Ndaw (R) with interim Vice-President Col Assimi Goita (L)

    Mali's transitional President, Bah Ndaw, has appointed a 25-member government in which senior military personnel have been given several key posts.

    According to a presidential decree read out on state television, the ministries of defence, security, territorial administration and national reconciliation are all to be led by colonels in the Malian military.

    Mr Ndaw - who had a career in the air force - was hand-picked to be president of the country by the coup leader.

    Following the subsequent appointment of a civilian prime minister, the West African regional block - Ecowas - is expected to soon lift the sanctions it imposed after August's coup.

    Col Sadio Camara, one of the leaders of the junta, will become the minister of defence, while the spokesman for the military junta, Col-Maj Ismaël Wagué, will be in charge of national reconciliation.

    Some significant posts also went to civilians with the former prosecutor, Mohamed Sidda Dicko, heading the justice department.

    Only four posts were given to women and just two posts to members of the opposition, M5, the group that led protests against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta leading to his ouster by the military.

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  15. US lauds Mali's transitional government

    The new interim president of Mali Bah Ndaw attends the Inauguration ceremony with the Malian new vice president Colonel Assimi Goita in Bamako, Mali
    Image caption: The transitional President Bah Ndaw was inaugurated last month

    The US government has termed the establishment of a transitional government in Mali "an initial step toward a return to democracy".

    The US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus urged the transitional government to honour the promise of holding elections within 18 months.

    "It will also be important for the transitional government to fulfil its pledges to the Malian people to strengthen governance, combat corruption, reform electoral processes and implement the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali," she said in a statement.

    Ms Ortagus said the US will remain Mali's partner and will work towards achieving the goals to a better Mali:

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    In August, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the “mutiny” in Mali and called on all political and military actors to work towards the restoration of a constitutional government.

    The US Sahel envoy J Peter Pham said the country had suspended cooperation with Mali’s military after the coup.

    Some of the coup leaders had been trained in the US.