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Africa

France helps repatriate Malians from Libya

media Egyptians try to flee Libya via Tunisia Reuters

France has flown 166 Malians who had fled Libya to Bamako from Egypt, where they had taken refuge, the foreign ministry announced Wednesday. An air link set up by several European countries has repatriated 4,000 Egyptians, according to French Prime Minister François Fillon.

The Malian government asked France to help evacuate its citizens return home, ministry official Bernard Valero told reporters.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

On Tuesday Fillon promised French help to repatriate Africans caught by Libya’s uprising.

He said that the joint European venture had taken 4,000 Egyptians home in 24 round flights.

Valero also condemned Saudi Arabia’s ban on demonstrations, but only after being questioned by journalists.

France supports “the right to demonstrate peacefully everywhere in the world”, he said, when asked about the ban at a regular Wednesday morning press conference.

On Monday the US made a similar statement, following Riyadh’s announcement that it would crack down on protests which have been called via Facebook for 11 and 20 March.

Twenty-six people were arrested last Friday and later freed, according to a rights activist, when several hundred members of Saudi Arabia's Shia-Muslim minority demonstrated for the release of a Shia cleric and other detainees.

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