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Mali ended its military ties with France this week, a decision that underscores the deterioration in relations between the two countries following a series of disputes in recent months, Bloomberg reported.

The country’s military junta accused France of violating its airspace and condemned the presence of French troops in Mali as “flagrant violations” of its national sovereignty.

Officials added that the legal framework that allowed the French counter-insurgency force “Barkhane” and the European task force “Takuba” to remain in the country will end immediately. This means that French and European forces can no longer enter or move freely on Malian soil.

The severing of ties is the latest escalation between France and Mali’s military junta as France withdraws its forces from the West African country after nearly a decade, Africanews noted.

French troops entered Mali in 2013 to stop Islamic militants affiliated with al Qaeda from advancing toward the capital, Bamako. But ties between the two nations have worsened following a 2020 military coup in Mali.

In recent months, the junta has criticized France’s decision to move its forces to neighboring Niger. The French government, meanwhile, has condemned the presence of Russian mercenaries in the country and accused them of human rights abuses.

In March, Human Rights Watch said that Malian forces and alleged Russian fighters killed at least 300 civilians in a village in central Mali.

Malian officials, however, countered that they had killed more than 200 militants in an operation against Islamist insurgents.

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