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French Soldiers are Detained in Equatorial Guinea

France said on Thursday one of its military helicopters carrying six soldiers had been detained after landing in Equatorial Guinea, in a diplomatic incident that demonstrated the strained ties between Malabo and Paris. The helicopter landed in Equatorial Guinea’s mainland port of Bata on Wednesday evening, hours after a French court upheld a guilty verdict in an embezzlement case against Equatorial Guinea’s Vice President Teodoro Obiang Mangue. Neither side spoke publicly of any link between the two incidents. French military spokesman Colonel Pascal Ianni said the six soldiers on board the helicopter were not armed. It was travelling from Douala in neighbouring Cameroon to a French military base in Libreville, Gabon and had stopped in Bata to refuel, he said, denying any intent to harm Equatorial Guinea. But Equatorial State radio has reported that the helicopter landed without authorisation.