A French soldier deployed to an anti-Islamist force in Mali died overnight from injuries sustained in a mine blast, the presidency said on Saturday. The man, a non-commissioned officer who was not identified by name, was wounded on Friday when his armoured vehicle struck a mine, it said. French President Francois Hollande “hailed the sacrifice” of the man killed, the statement said.
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French soldiers deployed to Mali in early 2013 to help drive back Islamist jihadists who had overrun parts of the west African country, a former French colony.
France’s Operation Serval in Mali was later replaced by Operation Barkhane, a broader offensive against Islamist groups with some 3,000 French soldiers deployed in five African countries.
Eighteen French soldiers have been killed since the start of French operations in Mali, including three killed in April when their vehicle also struck a mine in the north.
Last month six French troops were wounded in a similar explosion.
Jihadists were driven back from Mali’s main cities in the French-led operations but vast swathes of the country remain out of the control of Malian and foreign forces.