Voice of America (Washington, DC)

20 March 2014

Mali: French Forces Kill 40 Islamist Militants in Mali

Photo: Ministère de la Défense Française
Briefing session in northeast Mali with French officers (file photo).

France says its forces have killed about 40 jihadists in Mali over the past few weeks.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says some senior commanders of militant groups were among those killed in the operations.

He commented during an interview Thursday with France's BFM TV.

On Friday, Malian officials said French forces had killed top Islamist militia leader Omar Ould Hamaha in northern Mali.

The militant leader had ties to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and the Movement for the Unity and Jihad in the Islamic Maghreb .

Malian officials said Hamaha was killed during French airstrikes over a mountainous region.

In January 2013, France led a military operation in Mali to help the country's central government regain control of its northern region. Several Islamist militant groups seized control of the north after a March 2012 coup in the capital, Bamako.

The foreign intervention pushed the militants from power but fighters have continued to stage small-scale attacks in northern Mali.

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