Published: Wed, November 27, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

French soldiers killed as 2 helicopters collide during Mali anti-terror raid

French soldiers killed as 2 helicopters collide during Mali anti-terror raid

Thirteen French soldiers were killed while fighting Jihadists in Mali in an accident between two helicopters on November 25.

In a written statement, he expressed his support for the French military and stressed the "courage of the French soldiers".

The two helicopters involved in the collision, a Tiger and a Cougar, were providing overhead assistance to ground forces engaged in the counterterrorism operation, France's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The conflict acted as magnet for extremist groups in the Sahel, a region of Africa that stretches from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea and encompasses no less than 14 nations, including parts of Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad and the Central African Republic.

Islamist militants with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State have strengthened their foothold across the arid region, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking ethnic violence, especially in Mali and Burkina Faso.

Parly denied that France, which has repeatedly called on its European partners to commit more troops and funds to the fight against terrorism in West Africa, had been abandoned by its allies. The former colonial power in the region, France sent troops after armed Islamists revolted in northern Mali in 2012 and captured the Mali city of Timbuktu, threatening to advance into the centre of the country. They were forced back into the desert where they regrouped. But on Tuesday, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said support from European allies was valuable.

French lawmakers observed a minute of silence on Tuesday.

Prior to this, there was an attack three weeks ago which killed a French soldier patrolling the eastern borders of Mali.

Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said the soldiers had died for Mali and all Sahel countries, as well as for France.

But almost three years after its launch, the G5 Sahel remains perennially underfunded, hobbled by poor coordination and leaving much of the onus on Paris.

France's Barkhane military operation is one of multiple efforts against the growing extremist threat in the Sahel including a five-nation regional counterterror force that struggles to secure worldwide funding despite French backing and a peacekeeping mission in Mali that is one of the deadliest in UN history.

The United States and oThers have blocked efforts to set up sustained U.N. funding for The 5,000-strong regional G5 Sahel force.

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