French army says 30 jihadists killed in Mali

Paris (AFP) –


Forces belonging to France's Barkhane mission in Mali killed around 30 jihadists in the centre of the country, the French army headquarters said on Friday.

Commando troops transported by helicopter and supported by fighter aircraft on Thursday evening fought "several hours of ground combat" near Niaki, 180 kilometres (110 miles) east of central town Mopti, ending in "the neutralisation of several dozen" jihadists, the armed forces said in a statement.

Army spokesman Frederic Barbry told AFP that "around 30 members of an armed terrorist group" belonging to the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) had been killed.

Mirage fighter planes and Tiger combat helicopters had supported mountain commandos in the operation, Colonel Barbry added.

The army said that around 20 motorbikes as well as weapons had been captured or destroyed.

Earlier Friday, the French army had announced that Barkhane forces had killed GSIM's military commander Ba Ag Moussa.

Both operations were symbolically announced on the five-year anniversary of the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris by jihadist gunmen and suicide bombers that were France's worst-ever peacetime atrocity.

GSIM has become one of the main jihadist forces in the Sahel along with the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), which is also its sworn enemy.

French forces have been deployed to Mali alongside thousands of UN troops for years, and more than 50 have died in operations against a jihadist insurgency that erupted in 2012.