PARIS (Reuters) -- Hundreds of Parisians lined the streets of Paris on Monday to pay their respects to 13 French soldiers killed in Mali last week as hearses bearing their flag-draped coffins crossed the heart of the city.
The soldiers died when their helicopters collided in the dark as they hunted militants. It was the biggest loss of French troops in a single day since an attack in Beirut 36 years ago when 58 soldiers died.
The deaths in Mali highlight the human cost to France of leading a six-year campaign in West Africa. It has forced France to reassess its strategy, with no prospect in the immediate term of withdrawing its 4,500 troops from the region.
Escorted by police motorcyclists and with soldiers from the military regiments saluting their fallen comrades along the Alexandre III bridge, the 13 hearses solemnly crossed toward the Hotel des Invalides, where President Emmanuel Macron will lead tributes at a funeral ceremony later in the day.
The bodies of the fallen soldiers returned home on Sunday after a military homage at their base in Gao, central Mali.
France, the former colonial power in the region, is the only Western country with a significant military presence waging operations in Mali and the wider Sahel region.
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK) faced criticism at home on Monday for heading to Paris after not attending a ceremony for the death of 30 Malian soldiers in Gao last month.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia is to set up a new online site for its national encyclopedia after President Vladimir Putin said Wikipedia was unreliable and should be replaced.
The move will ensure people can find "reliable information that is constantly updated on the basis of scientifically verified sources of knowledge,” a government resolution said.
Putin last month proposed replacing the crowd-sourced online encyclopedia Wikipedia with an electronic version of the Great Russian Encyclopedia - the successor to the Soviet Union’s main encyclopedia.
"This, at any rate, would be reliable information offered in a modern form,” Putin said then.
In 2015, Russia briefly blocked the Russian-language version of Wikipedia for an article containing information on cannabis under legislation banning sites with drug-related material.
BAKU (Reuters) -- Azerbaijan’s parliament on Monday formally asked President Ilham Aliyev to dissolve it and to schedule new parliamentary elections.
The next election is not due until November 2020, but the president has the right to dissolve the parliament and call an early election. The call from parliament comes a month after a major government shake-up.
BERLIN (Reuters) -- NATO member states will affirm the bloc’s collective defense guarantee at their summit this week in the United Kingdom, a German government official said on Monday.
The commitment will be included in the summit’s declaration, the official said, adding that a meeting of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump was envisaged for Wednesday on the sidelines of the meeting.
TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japanese activists on Monday called for drastic steps by the government, companies and universities to stamp out sexual harassment of job-hunting students, a problem they said lurks in the shadows because victims fear speaking out.
Although the labor ministry drafted guidelines in October to prevent power harassment in workplaces, it said only that such measures were "desirable” for students and other non-employees.
Despite some diversification in recruitment, many Japanese firms tend to hire new graduates, who begin the job hunt while still at university.
Many feel too vulnerable to denounce harassment, members of Safe Campus Youth Network (SAY), a volunteer group of professors and students at six Tokyo universities, told a news conference.
"Today, harassment against job-hunting students, especially sexual harassment against female students, is a serious issue that could interfere with life choices on their career path,” the group said in a statement demanding action.
"These cases are almost never reported and employees can say anything they like because students are the weak ones,” said Rhea Endo, a 19-year-old student at Tokyo’s International Christian University.
YAKUTSK, Russia (AP) — Russian scientists on Monday showed off a prehistoric puppy, believed to be 18,000 years old, found in permafrost in the country’s Far East.
Discovered last year in a lump of frozen mud near the city of Yakutsk, the puppy is unusually well-preserved, with its hair, teeth, whiskers and eyelashes still intact.
"This puppy has all its limbs, pelage – fur, even whiskers. The nose is visible. There are teeth. We can determine due to some data that it is a male,” Nikolai Androsov, director of the Northern World private museum where the remains are stored, said at the presentation at the Yakutsk’s Mammoth Museum which specializes in ancient specimens.
In recent years, Russia’s Far East has provided many riches for scientists studying the remains of ancient animals. As the permafrost melts, affected by climate change, more and more parts of woolly mammoths, canines and other prehistoric animals are being discovered. Often it is mammoth tusk hunters who discover them.