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France chooses Africa intervention carefully

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The Associated Press | January 12, 2013 02:38 PM EST | AP

PARIS — France has a history of intervention in Africa, where it was a colonial power for decades and still maintains several military sites and has hundreds of troops across the continent, including Senegal, Ivory Coast, Chad and Gabon.


_ January 2013: French helicopter gunships and fighter jets struck at Islamist fighters in Mali at the request of Mali's president, after the rebels began seizing territory well to the south of the strongholds they had held for the previous nine months. It was the first military intervention under French President Francois Hollande.

_January 2011: Two French hostages were killed on the Niger-Mali border by their captors as French rescue forces closed in.


_January 2013: A French commando was killed and another missing after a failed raid to rescue an intelligence agent held hostage in Somalia for more than three years.

_April 2009: French commandos stormed a sailboat off the Somali coast to rescue hostages held by pirates. One hostage was killed and four were freed in the operation, which was part of an EU-led anti-piracy operation.


_April 2011: French tanks and helicopters backed Ivory Coast troops trying to oust Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to leave power after disputed elections. A French armored advance in Abidjan allowed troops for Alassane Ouattara to secure the city and take Gbagbo into custody.

_November 2004: French troops fought soldiers from Ivory Coast and French jets all but destroyed the West African country's air force after its warplanes from killed at least nine French peacekeepers and an American civilian.


_March 2011: France was a leading force in the NATO operation against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces in 2011. Then-President Nicolas Sarkozy sent French jets to target Gadhafi's forces after pressing for a no-fly zone.


_April 2006: France provided intelligence to government forces of President Idriss Deby, who himself received military training in France. The intelligence allowed Deby to keep power against a rebel force that threatened to seize control of the nation rich in oil reserves.