French soldier dies in attack on counter-insurgency base in Mali


A French soldier was killed in a mortar attack on a base in Mali, the army announced on Sunday.

The 24-year-old gunner, Alexandre Martin, was serving in the French counter-insurgency force Opération Barkhane, according to a statement from the French army.

Several shots targeted the Gao military camp on Saturday, the army statement said. Martin was seriously injured and later died, he added. The army said nine other soldiers were lightly injured. He said helicopters were then deployed to “neutralize the terrorists who fired the shots”. In a statement, French President Emmanuel Macron praised the soldier’s service and reaffirmed “France’s determination to continue the fight against terrorism in the region, alongside its partners”. French troops have been present in Mali since 2013, when they intervened to oust Islamic extremist rebels from power in towns in the north of the country. Operation Serval was later replaced by Barkhane and expanded to include other countries in an effort to help stabilize the wider Sahel region of Africa. The French force operated in Mali, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. France has previously announced its intention to reduce the force from 5,000 soldiers to 2,500-3,000 soldiers in the long term.

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