First trench of French troops exit Niger

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French military personnels are seen outside Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, Nov. 20, 2015. Three Chinese citizens were killed in a hostage-taking situation at the Radisson Blu hotel in the Malian capital, while four other Chinese citizens were rescued, the Chinese Embassy in Mali confirmed to Xinhua on Friday. (Xinhua/Stringer)
French military personnel

Niger’s junta announced that the departure of the first convoy of French military personnel based in Niger began on Tuesday under the escort of the Nigerien Defense and Security Forces.

The French side agreed upon the schedule, said an official statement released on national television, calling for “vigilance and a sense of responsibility from each of us to ensure a peaceful passage for these convoys.”

A source close to the matter revealed that the first group of around 50 soldiers, including medical personnel, has already left the country via air transport, and another contingent will follow by land route heading for Chad.

French Ambassador to Niger Sylvain Itte left the country in September upon the request of the Nigerien military junta following the coup in July.

France has announced the end of its military presence in Niger, with the withdrawal of around 1,500 French soldiers based in Niger by the end of the year.

Last Thursday, the French Joint Defense Staff announced in a press release that the pullout of the French troops and military assets stationed in Niger will begin this week.

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