French forces ‘kill Islamist militants’ in Mali operation
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French forces killed 19 Islamist militants during an operation in northern Mali on Tuesday, according to a military source.
"A French military operation is underway north of Timbuktu. French troops are facing a pretty determined group. At the moment, 19 members of this group have been killed," an unnamed French military source based in the capital Bamako told the AFP news agency.
"The French troops haven't reported any deaths or injuries. We are in control of the situation," he added.
A French-led offensive in January drove Islamist groups linked to al Qaeda out of the cities of northern Mali, including Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal, after they occupied the areas in the wake of a coup in Bamako last year.
Despite this success, Islamist forces have continued to launch periodic strikes targeting French, Malian and African peacekeeping forces in the country.
Paris is currently seeking to reduce its presence in Mali and hand over to a UN peacekeeping mission.
Mali’s new President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was elected in August having promised to make security a top priority as the country battles the remnants of the Islamist militant groups.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
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