French troops kill 15 jihadists in Mali

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Coalition of the People of Azawad (CPA) fighters are seen holding weapons while sitting on a Land Cruise, while patrolling the area near the Mali-Mauritania border to protect local populations from insecurity.
Coalition of the People of Azawad (CPA) fighters are seen holding weapons while sitting on a Land Cruise, while patrolling the area near the Mali-Mauritania border to protect local populations from insecurity.
Souleymane Ag Anara, AFP
  • Fifteen jihadists were killed and four others arrested.
  • They were killed near Mali's border where an al-Qaeda-linked group is active.
  • Improvised explosives devices have killed five French troops and four Ivorian soldiers.


France's armed forces said Friday they had killed around 15 jihadists near Mali's border with Burkina Faso, where an al-Qaeda-linked group is active.

Two operations took place at the weekend in the Boulikessi sector in central Mali, military headquarters said.

On Saturday, "French soldiers identified an armed terrorist group on motorbikes and guided an aircraft to carry out a strike," Frederic Barbry told a journalists.

The commandos spotted another armed group the following day and called in reconnaissance and attack helicopters to provide support.

"Around 15 jihadists were neutralised and four were arrested in these operations," while troops seized weapons, motorbikes and materials used for making roadside bombs, he said.

So-called improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have killed five French troops and four Ivorian soldiers with the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali since late December.

The central region is a reputed stronghold of the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM).

France's military role there was placed in the spotlight earlier this month when several residents in the village of Bounti said about 20 people in a wedding party had been killed in a strike by a helicopter.

It occurred on 3 January, they said, near where French forces said they carried out an airstrike on jihadists using a fighter jet.

France's military has insisted it struck jihadists, ruling out the possibility of any mistake.

The region is the epicentre of a deadly Islamist offensive that began in northern Mali in 2012 and then advanced into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, inflaming ethnic tensions along the way.

Independent confirmation of reports in this area is difficult, given the remoteness and danger.


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