Mali said it has evidence showing French troops created an enclave in northern Mali, for ‘terrorist group’ Ansar al-Din and also has been training “terrorist” groups operating in the West African country.
Mali’s Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga addressing the Russian media said the Malian military was banned from entering the territory.
“Mali has no access to Kidal, this is an enclave controlled by France,” Russia Today reported citing Maiga’s interview to state-owned RIA Novosti on Friday.
“They have armed groups trained by French officers. We have evidence … We do not understand this situation and do not want to tolerate it.”
Maiga added that the groups “came from Libya”.
Days ago, Mali summoned France’s ambassador to the country to register its “indignation” at French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent criticism of the country’s government, which is dominated by army figures.
In June, France decided to scale back its Sahel deployment considerably following a military takeover in Mali in August 2020, which forced out the elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
In turn, Mali accused France of abandoning the West African country over its decision to reduce its military deployment in the semi-arid Sahel region.
The French government stated its militarily remains committed to the fight against the armed uprising in the Sahel.
Tensions between France and its former colony Mali have grown since it was reported last month that the Sahel state was close to hiring 1,000 paramilitaries from Russian private security firm Wagner to help its fight against groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS).
France intervened in Mali in 2013 after armed rebels seized control of the north the previous year.
Since then, Paris has deployed thousands of troops across the Sahel region to combat the armed uprising that has left thousands of people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands.