A fourth French soldier has been killed in Mali during a reconnaissance mission near the main city in the north, Gao. And former president Nicolas Sarkozy has laid into the French intervention, claiming that it is only serving to "support putschists".
Brigadier Wilfred Pingaud, 37, who was a member of an artillery regiment, was killed on Wednesday morning when an Islamist militia attacked a detachment of Malian soldiers with which he was on reconnaissance at Tin Keraten, 100 kilometres away from Gao, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.
Four Malian soldiers were wounded in the fighting, the statement said.
Several dozen rebels have been killed in clashes near Gao over the last few days, according to Paris and Bamako.
Ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy has criticised the Mali intervention in an interview with the magazine Valeurs actuelles.
"The rule is never to go into a country that has no government," Sarkozy tells the magazine in a reference to the fact that Mali's government was toppled by a coup last year.
"What are we doing there if we're not just supporting putschists and trying to control a territory four times larger than France with 4,000 men?" he asks.