Islamist militants ‘taken out of action’ in Mali: French military
London, Oct. 26, 2017 (AltAfrika)-The French army claimed it had eliminated an “armed terrorist group” linked to Al-Qaeda in northern Mali, killing 15 jihadists, while three UN peacekeepers died after their vehicle struck a mine.
Army spokesman Patrick Steiger said troops from France’s regional Barkhane anti-terror operation carried out a joint strike against the group with French special forces about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Kidal.
The operation, backed by fighter jets and helicopters, took place overnight Monday.
The French operation in the region of Abeibara took place overnight on Monday and targeted members of Islamist militant group Ansar Dine, the spokesman said.
It involved French Mirage jets, attack helicopters and forces on the ground, he added without providing details on how many of the 15 militants targeted had been killed or wounded.
France intervened in Mali to ward off an offensive by Islamist militants that began in 2012. Around 4,000 of its troops remain in the region as part of Operation Barkhane, where they work alongside around 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers in Mali.
The U.S. deaths have drawn attention to counter-terror efforts in the arid Sahel region where an Islamist insurgency involving countless armed groups has been intensifying for years, regularly killing local soldiers. (Reuters)