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POLICE

Suspected Mali jihadist ‘betrayed France’

The sister of a French-Algerian man arrested in Mali on suspicion of taking part in armed jihad has declared “he must pay” for "betraying" France.

Suspected Mali jihadist 'betrayed France'
File photo: Mike Fitzsimon

The 37-year-old man, named as ‘Djamel’ by Le Parisien, was arrested in northern Mali earlier this month, according to the French daily,  for allegedly being a member of a jihadist group fighting against French and Malian government soldiers. He is being held in the Paris region after being extradited from Mali, according to a report by the Parisien on Tuesday.

Recent revelations that French citizens were among Islamist militants fighting in Mali have caused concern throughout France and in particular among a government increasingly wary of the threat posed by homegrown terrorists.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien, Djamel's sister, given the alias Sonia, said: “He has betrayed his family. He has betrayed France. And he has also betrayed himself… He has hurt everyone, and now he must pay."

“Since I found out he was in Mali, he hasn’t been my brother any more. He’s not a member of this family any more. What he did is the worst of the worst – fighting against French troops, when it was France that raised him, allowed him to study, to work, to find a wife, and have children,” she added.

In 2005 the father of three got divorced from his wife after which his sister said Djamel began attending the mosque more frequently and grew distant from his family.

At that point Djamel grew a beard, started associating with men known locally for indoctrinating youths, and “from time to time he talked about joining Al Qaeda,”  though these claims were largely ignored by his family.

His sister also claimed that Djamel had been a former member of France's police force. But this was subsequently denied by authorities who said the suspected jihadist had applied to join the police but was twice rejected.

Earlier in March it was revealed that another French citizen, Ibrahim Aziz Ouattara, 25, had been arrested on November 3rd in central Mali on his way to join a group of Islamists, after allegedly entering Mali through Portugal under a false identity.

Ouattara, who is also a Malian citizen, faces potential terrorism charges in France.

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POLICE

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”

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