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First French jihad suspect arrested in Mali

PARIS (AP) – Mali’s authorities have arrested a Frenchman in the west African country who allegedly was trying to join radical Islamists controlling the north.

French and Mali officials confirmed Friday that 24-year-old Ibrahim Ouattara was taken into custody there this week and charged in France with trying to reach radicals fighting in another country.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is among three extremist groups controlling northern Mali. It’s made up mainly of foreign fighters. Radical Islamists moved into the region after a military coup in March overthrew Mali’s president.

Outtara is the first French citizen arrested in Mali, but France, Mali’s former colonial ruler, is concerned it could itself become a target of battle-hardened returning fighters.

A judicial official said on condition of anonymity that Ouattara holds French and Malian nationality.

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