Two French Soldiers Killed in Mali Bomb Blast

Two French Soldiers Killed in Mali Bomb Blast. ilmage: French State Media

Two French Soldiers Have Been Killed in a Mali Bomb Blast.

Two French soldiers were killed when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in northeastern Mali on Saturday, Jan. 2,  just days after three others died in a similar fashion. Their deaths brought to 50 the number of French soldiers killed in the West African nation since France first intervened in 2013 to help drive back jihadist forces, according to army staff.

President Emmanuel Macron “learnt with great sadness” of the deaths of Sergeant Yvonne Huynh and Brigadier Loic Risser in the Menaka region, his office said in a statement. Huynh, aged 33 and mother of a young child, was the first female soldier killed in the Sahel region since the French operation began. Risser was 24. Both were members of a regiment specialising in intelligence work.

“Their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device during an intelligence mission,” the French presidency said of Saturday’s incident. Another soldier was wounded in the blast but their life is not in danger, it added.

France’s Barkhane force numbers 5,100 troops spread across the arid Sahel region and has been fighting jihadist groups alongside soldiers from Mauritania, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, who together make up the G5 Sahel group. President Macron affirmed France’s determination to continue its role in “the battle against terrorism” after Saturday’s attack.

Four thousand people died in 2019 from jihadist violence and ethnic conflict stirred by Islamists across Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, according to the UN.

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Tony Winterburn

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