Only about a quarter of the peacekeepers are in the north and France is sending several hundred additional troops to northern Mali to help deal with the increased Islamic terrorist activity. The Mali peacekeeping force, composed of 11,000 French and (mainly) African troops has been suffering more casualties in the last two months (21 dead and many more wounded) as Malian Islamic terrorists from bases in southern Libya are now regularly moving south to carry out operations in northern Mali. All this is possible because of the Libyan civil war. That conflict is mainly up north along the coast and no one bothers with Islamic terrorists who only kill across the border in Mali. There is a similar problem in Afghanistan with Islamic terrorists operations from several sanctuary areas in neighboring Pakistan and Iran.
French and American intelligence know a lot about all the illegal activity in southern Libya. UAVs and satellites reveal details of Islamic terrorist camps and convoys sneaking across the southern borders. Local spies and informants are used to obtain more detailed information and from that it is known that most of the armed men in the south are more intent on making money (usually smuggling guns, drugs or people) than Islamic terrorism. The big problem in southern Libya is that there is no law, aside from what little local tribal elders will hand out concerning tribal matters. The Libyan government has some security forces down there, but they are largely confined to the few towns in the desert area.
In southern Mali the government is struggling to contain an outbreak of Ebola. The current Ebola outbreak is a year old and the worst ever. So far at least 14,000 people have caught Ebola and at least 5,000 have died. Nearly all the Ebola cases have been in Liberia, Guinea (where the first cases were detected) and Sierra Leone. On October 23rd the first case was detected in Mali. So far three people in Mali have died from Ebola and over a hundred have been quarantined. So far all the Ebola activity has been in the south and the infected people apparently came from neighboring Guinea. In the three countries with most Ebola activity the containment measures are finally working and infections are declining. Cases have shown up in over twenty other countries, but have not spread because of vigorous response from local governments.
November 3, 2014: Two French NH90 transport helicopters flew in from the Senegal port of Dakar. These 11 ton helicopters, similar to the UH-60, will support counter-terror operations in the north. There are already a dozen French helicopters (1.8 ton Gazelles, 6 ton Tiger gunships, 7 ton Pumas and 9 ton Cougars) in Mali to support the operations up north. There are also four Dutch AH-64 gunships and some transport helicopters.
November 2, 2014: In the north east an army patrol clashed with some Tuareg rebels. One rebel was killed and twenty arrested. Later the rebel spokesman claimed that the army fired first and that there were higher casualties on both sides. The main problem here is that the ceasefire was violated for the time since it was agreed to May.
October 30, 2014: Across the border in Niger armed men attacked police guarding a camp holding 6,000 Mali refugees. Nine policemen were killed in that attack and another one at a nearby jail. Niger hosts over 50,000 Mali refugees and is suffering more attacks from Islamic terrorists coming in from Libya.
October 29, 2014: In the north, near the Algerian border, French troops clashed with a group of at least 30 Islamic terrorists. This was after the French had been searching the area for several days. A series of gun battles left one French soldier and 24 Islamic terrorists dead. The French discovered that Islamic terrorists had recently returned to the Kidal area, probably after coming in from Libya and were looking for them. These mountains along the Mali border have long been a terrorist and smuggler hideout. The French troops took two Islamic terrorists alive and seized documents, weapons and equipment including materials for making suicide bomb vests. Later in the day, across the border in southwest Algeria (Adrar province) local police raided a smuggler hideout and killed four smugglers who attempted to shoot their way out. Police seized weapons, vehicles, two satellite phones and drugs the men were smuggling. The Algerian security forces are mostly concerned with weapons frequently smuggled into or out of nearby Mali. The Algerians and French troops in Mali coordinate their anti-smuggler operations and share intelligence.
October 17, 2014: In the north (Kidal) French troops raided a house and found a large stock of weapons, including the same type of rockets used to attack a peacekeeper base on the 7th. The raiders also arrested three men believed involved in Islamic terrorist operations and seized documents.
October 16, 2014: In the north (Gao) pro-government Tuareg militiamen clashed with Tuareg separatist rebels. Several clashes left at least six dead and many more wounded. Peacekeepers sent one of their Dutch AH-64 helicopter gunships to assist the pro-government tribesmen.