25 January 2014

Mali: Militants Killed in Anti-Terror Operation

A French counter-terrorism operation in northern Mali has killed 11 Islamist militants and left a French soldier wounded.

An official from France's Operation Serval military mission told news agency AFP the operation took place in Mali's Timbuktu region, adding the wounded soldier's life is not in danger.

Malian military and foreign sources said the troops were targeting the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (JUJAO); the Signatories in Blood, an armed unit founded by fugitive jihadist commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar; and fighters loyal to slain warlord Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, who was killed in February last year.

The French troops also seized military equipment and phones.

On Thursday, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that, a year after France launched military operations to drive Islamists out of Mali, "not everything is finished; the terrorist risk in this part of Africa remains high."

"We will keep 1,000 soldiers who are carrying out counter-terrorism missions... we have operations targeting groups rebuilding on two fronts, firstly around Timbuktu and then in the Ifoghas mountains" in the north, he said.

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