Two French soldiers killed in security operation in Mali

FILE PHOTO: A French soldier patrols with Malian soldiers in Kidal, northern Mali. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD

Two French soldiers were killed and another one was injured when their armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) in Mali’s northern Tessalit region, the French presidency said.

The soldiers were part of France’s Barkhane military operations which are geared towards eliminating the threat of terrorism in the Sahel region.

French President Emmanuel Macron mourned the loss of the soldiers while praising the “courage and determination of the French military deployed in the Sahel region.”

Macron also used the opportunity to call for the speedy formation of a civilian political transition in the country following the coup last month.

The removal of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as president stoked fear among international and regional powers that this development could undermine their military campaigns against Islamist militants in the region.

Despite the removal of Keita, France said that it will continue its military operations in the West African nation against Islamist militants.

France runs a separate anti-insurgent mission across the Sahel region with a contingent of more than 5,000 troops.

The European power has lost a number of soldiers in its attempt to stabilize Mali and the greater Sahel region and eliminate the threat of jihadists since its intervention nearly seven years ago.

In July, a French soldier was killed during a security operation when an improvised explosive device was triggered next to his armoured vehicle.

In November last year, 13 French soldiers were killed in a helicopter collision during an operation against jihadists near the border with Burkina Faso and Niger. It was the largest single loss of life for the French military in decades.

In February 2018, two French soldiers were killed after their armoured vehicle was hit by an explosive device.