3 June 2017

Mali: France Says Troops Killed 20 Militants in Northern Mali

Photo: Radio France Internationale / David Baché
Des soldats français déployés au Mali

France's defense ministry has said its troops took several combatants "out of action" in operations against jihadist groups in Mali this week. The assault also resulted in the seizure of weapons and other equipment.

Soldiers taking part in France's counterterror mission in northern Mali clashed with Islamist militants this week, taking out around 20 fighters, French officials said on Friday.

Soldiers involved in Operation Barkhane, the French military mission operating in the Sahel region, deployed Tiger attack helicopters and Mirage 2000 jets during the operations.

"About 20 terrorist have been taken out and following searches the army has seized individual and collective weapons," the French defense ministry said in a statement.

In addition to weapons, munitions and other equipment were seized during the operations which began on Sunday and ended on Thursday.

The statement added that this week's operations coupled with other operations carried out with Mali and Burkina Faso forces had "produced intelligence on operations by armed terrorist groups in the region."

Four French soldiers were wounded when mortar struck an Operation Barkhane camp outside Timbuktu on Thursday. One day prior, three Malian soldiers were killed in an ambush.

In 2013, France intervened in Mali to drive out jihadists linked to al-Qaida who had overtaken northern cities. The mission has since deployed over 4,500 soldiers to Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso.

Militants continue to mount attacks on civilians, the Malian army, as well as French and UN troops stationed in northern and central Mali.

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron visited with troops in Mali on his first official visit outside Europe since taking office. He urged European leaders to step up their military presence in Africa to help combat jihadist groups.

rs/bw (AFP, Reuters)


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