French soldier killed in Mali clash

Filed on September 25, 2021 | Last updated on September 25, 2021 at 01.49 am
This handout picture released by the French Defense Staff (Etat Major des Armees), shows a portrait of French Army Chief Corporal Maxime Blasco who was killed in combat in Mali. — AFP

The death brings to 52 the number of French fatalities serving in the Sahel region since 2013.

France on Friday reaffirmed its determination to defeat terrorism after one of its soldiers was killed in a clash with an armed group in Mali.

In a statement, the French presidency expressed “particularly strong emotion” at the news of the killing early on Friday and said it “reaffirms France’s determination in its fight against terrorism.”

The death brought to 52 the number of French fatalities serving in the Sahel region since 2013.

The latest attack comes amid increasingly strained relations between Paris and Bamako, where the ruling military junta plans to hire Russian mercenaries to help fight insurgents have alarmed France and its EU allies.

France’s foreign and defence ministers this week warned Bamako that its plan to hire a thousand paramilitaries from Russia’s so-called Wagner group was not compatible with maintaining French troops in the country.

In January, two soldiers, one of them a woman, were killed in their light armoured vehicle by an “improvised explosive device”.

Five days prior to that incident, three other French soldiers were also killed by a makeshift bomb.

Those two attacks were claimed by the Al Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM).

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