French Defense Minister Florence Parly said Monday that new military operations are set to be launched in the border zone between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, where France and its allies intend to refocus their efforts against extremists.
Parly spoke to reporters in Mali’s capital Bamako, where she together with her Swedish, Estonian and Portuguese counterparts met Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
“New operations will develop in the coming weeks in this very special area of the three borders,” local media quoted Parly as saying, without divulging details.
Parly’s visit to the region was aimed at pushing for the implementation of resolutions of a recent summit between French President Emmanuel Macron and his G5 Sahel counterparts from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania held in the city of Pau in southwestern France to discuss the security situation in the region.
The presidents had affirmed their willingness to focus the military effort on the three-border region, where extremists have carried out a wave of deadly attacks in recent months.
The Pau summit also announced the creation of a “coalition for the Sahel” bringing together the G5 Sahel, France and other partners.
The report said Parly sounded confident in the participation of European countries in the coalition.
“The message is quite clear: we want to continue the fight against terrorism because what is happening in the Sahel, the insecurity that prevails in the Sahel at the moment affects all of us Europeans,” she said.
Parly visited Chad before arriving in Mali on Monday.
Her visit coincided with a suicide attack in Lake Chad province.
Nine civilians were killed when a female suicide bomber detonated explosives in western Chad, an area previously targeted by the Boko Haram terrorist group, said the army.
The attack took place overnight Sunday in the village of Kaiga Kindjiria.
The dead included two women and seven men, said Chadian army spokesman Colonel Azem Bermandoa.
Chad is one of the countries in the region struggling to root out extremists.