Johannesburg/Paris/Abidjan — The French were hailed as liberators in Mali in the aftermath of a bloody coup that left the land-locked former colony exposed. These days, Malians want them gone.

One of the worst losses of life in France’s military in more than three decades — 13 dead soldiers during an antiterrorism mission in Mali — shines a light on the uncomfortable fact that its mission in a former colony is a shambles...

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