A mine explosion killed a French soldier in northern Mali, according to a statement released by the French presidential office Saturday.
The soldier from the French Army’s 515th regiment was in an armoured personnel carrier (APC) when he was wounded in a mine explosion in northern Mali on Friday afternoon, said the French presidential office. He later succumbed to his injuries.
In a statement released Saturday morning, French President François Hollande acknowledged the sacrifice of the deceased soldier “killed in the line of duty while defending our nation and its citizens”.
Hollande "expressed his confidence and pride in the French forces who are supporting the Malian army and the UN mission to restore peace in Mali and reduce the threat of terrorist groups in the entire Sahel”, said the statement, referring to the swathe of scrubland between the Sahara and African savannah that is home to a number of jihadist groups.
French troops have been posted in northern Mali since January 2013, when France intervened to liberate northern Mali from jihadist control under Operation Serval.
While the French troops succeeded in wresting control of the vast area from a motley mix of jihadist groups, pockets of resistance have remained in an inhospitable terrain where the state has a minimum presence. Since January 2013, 18 French troops have been killed in northern Mali. On April 3, three soldiers were killed in a mine explosion near the northern Malian town of Tessalit.
In August 2014, Operation Serval was replaced by Operation Barkhane, which supports MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali), the UN mission in Mali. The aim of the new mission, headquartered in the Chadian capital of N’Djamena, is to support the armed forces of various states in the Sahel.
The MINUSMA mission is considered one of the UN’s most dangerous peacekeeping missions, with dozens of peacekeepers killed in ambushes and attacks since the mission began in 2013.
Date created : 2016-11-05