French airstrikes kill more than 50 terrorists in Mali
The French government said on Monday that more than 50 jihadists aligned to Al-Qaeda in airstrikes in central Mali during an operation launched by its anti-jihadist force in the region last week.
The operation took place on Friday in an area near the borders of Burkina Faso and Niger, where government troops are struggling to rout an Islamic insurgency, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said after meeting members of Mali’s transitional government.
“On 30 October in Mali, the Barkhane force conducted an operation that neutralised more than 50 jihadists and confiscated arms and material,” Parly said, referring to the French-led anti-jihadist Operation Barkhane.
She added that around 30 motorcycles were destroyed.
Parly, who earlier met Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou and her Nigerien counterpart Issoufou Katambe before heading to Bamako, said the operation was launched after a drone detected a “very large” motorcycle caravan in the “three borders” area.
As the insurgents took cover under trees to escape surveillance, the French forces sent in two Mirage fighter jets and a drone to launch missiles, “neutralizing” the terrorists, Parly said, adding that around 30 motorcycles were destroyed.
Parly said the military action was a significant blow to a local terror group that has ties to al-Qaida via the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), a regional jihadist alliance.
The defense minister arrived in Bamako after meeting with Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou and her Nigerien counterpart Issoufou Katambe.