19 March 2015 by Thomas Fessy – BBC Africa
France has set up a military base in Niger, just south of the Libyan border, hoping to cut off trafficking and supply routes, on which militant groups like Islamic State rely to spread their influence around the region, as Thomas Fessy reports.
Paratroopers from the Foreign Legion are receiving last-minute instructions before they climb in their armoured vehicles. Engines roaring, they are on the move before the first light. This morning, they will advance through a searing and bitterly cold desert wind. The temperature sinks to 4C (39F) overnight and at 05:30, the mercury of the thermometer has not started to rise. These soldiers' mission is not the easiest; they are searching for clues amidst the emptiness.