French President Macron begins first Africa tour

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French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to the media at a press conference in Salzburg, Austria, August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to the media at a press conference in Salzburg, Austria, August 23, 2017. REUTERS

Three civilians were wounded in Burkina Faso after a grenade was thrown at French troops shortly before President Emmanuel Macron touched down for the start of his first Africa tour.

Macron is in the Western African nation on a three-day trip aimed at enhancing France’s regional influence, stemming the continent’s migrant crisis and bolstering the fight against violent Islamist militancy in the Sahel, AFP reports.

According to his advisory, Macron’s primary message will be to stress a partnership of equals with Africa, based on education and entrepreneurship.

Just before his arrival, an attempted attack on French troops in the capital Ouagadougou happened.

“Two hooded individuals on a motorcycle threw a grenade towards a French army vehicle” as it made its way to a barracks housing French Special Forces, a security source said on condition of anonymity.

Three residents were wounded in the attack.

European leaders are trying to find ways to stem the flow of African migrants across the Mediterranean. This comes after a video footage released by CNN showed migrants being sold as slaves in Libya.

Macron will also be seeking international backing for a new, five-nation African counter-terrorism force, which France hopes to see eventually take over the fight against jihadist groups in the Sahel region.

Ouagadougou has suffered two recent terror attacks carried out by Islamist militants — a shooting spree in January 2016 that left 20 dead and a similar assault by gunmen in August that killed 19, the report said.

French Special Forces have been present in the country since 2010 to help regional governments tackle jihadist violence in the Sahel, particularly in neighbouring Mali.

After his visit in the country, Macron will depart for Abidjan where the fifth Europe-Africa summit will bring together more than 80 leaders from the two continents.

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