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13 French troops killed in Mali helicopter crash

13 French troops killed in Mali helicopter crash

Nov 26, 2019 - 15:04

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Thirteen French soldiers have been killed in a helicopter accident during an operation against jihadist militants in northern Mali, the French president's office said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The accident, a collision between two helicopters, occurred while the forces were engaging jihadist fighters who have staged a series of deadly strikes in northern Mali in recent weeks, the Elysée Palace said.

President Emmanuel Macron expressed his “deep sadness” at the deaths, saluting the courage of French troops deployed in Mali and sharing his condolences for the families of the slain soldiers.

France has more than 4,500 troops countering Islamist insurgencies in the sparsely-populated Sahel region, where violence has proliferated in recent years.

Monday's deadly crash comes three weeks after a French soldier was killed by a roadside bomb while patrolling Mali's eastern border region.

The Sahel region is the scene of repeated clashes between jihadists and local forces backed by troops from Western countries.

Northern Mali came under the control of al Qaeda-linked jihadists after Mali's army failed to quash a rebellion there in 2012.

A French-led military campaign was launched against the jihadists, pushing them back a year later.

But the jihadists have regrouped and widened their hit-and-run raids and landmine attacks to central and southern Mali.

In addition to French troops, the UN has around 15,000 peacekeeping troops stationed in the country.

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