PARIS Jan 12 France will pursue operations in
Mali to prepare a subsequent African-led intervention to oust
Islamist rebels and will step up anti-terrorist security
measures on its own territory, President Francois Hollande said
As French aircraft pounded rebel fighters for a second day,
Hollande said he had given instructions that the several hundred
French troops sent to Mali must keep their actions strictly
limited to supporting a West African ECOWAS operation.
"We have already held back the progress of our adversaries
and inflicted heavy losses on them. But our mission is not over
yet," Hollande said, a day after French forces launched air
strikes and reinforced the capital Bamako to pre-empt a feared
rebel advance towards the city.
One French pilot was killed in Friday's air strikes, in a
blow to the start of a campaign which represents Hollande's
biggest foreign policy test since his May election.
France also lost a commando and a secret agent held hostage
since 2009 in a raid in Somalia on Saturday, an operation
Hollande said had been planned several days ago. His defence
minister said earlier that the operations were unrelated.
"This operation confirms France's determination not to give
in to the blackmail of terrorists," Hollande said of the Somalia
incident. "In the days ahead, we will pursue our intervention in
Mali," he told a news conference.
Concerned about reprisals on French soil, Hollande said he
had asked his prime minister to reinforce security in public
buildings and on public transport as quickly as possible.