Three French soldiers killed in Mali IED blast

The soldiers, on a mission in the southern region, were part of France’s Barkhane military operations in Mali.

Malian soldiers and members of a French military medical unit conduct an assistance operation during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki [File: Benoit Tessier/Reuters]

Three French soldiers died after their armoured vehicle hit an IED in the Hombori area of Mali’s central Mopti province.

The soldiers were participating in a military operation as part of a larger mission aiming at fighting armed groups in Africa”s Sahel region, the French presidency said in a statement on Monday.

French defence minister Florence Parly said the soldiers were working “in an area where terrorist groups are attacking civilians and threatening the regional stability”.

France has more than 5,000 troops deployed in West Africa.

Monday’s deaths brought to 47 the number of French soldiers killed in Mali since France first intervened militarily in January 2013 to help drive back fighters who had overrun parts of the West African country.

The rebels regrouped in the desert and now launch frequent attacks on the Malian army and its allies.

In November, French forces killed Bahag Moussa, a military leader of al-Qaeda’s North Africa wing.

Source: News Agencies