The French government said on Monday its forces destroyed more than 50 Al-Qaeda-linked jihadis in airstrikes in central Mali.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly said the attack took place Friday in an area near the Burkina Faso and Niger border, where government troops are struggling to defeat an Islamic uprising, the minister of state French room Florence Parly said after meeting with members of Mali’s transition government.
“On 30 October in Mali, Barkhane forces launched a campaign to neutralize more than 50 jihadis and confiscate weapons and material,” said Parly, referring to the Barkhane anti-jihad campaign. France leads the way.
She added that about 30 motorbikes were destroyed.
Parly, who had previously met Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou and her Nigerien counterpart Issoufou Katambe before arriving in Bamako, said the operation was launched after a drone detected a fleet of motorbikes ”; huge “in the” three-border “region.
As the jihadis moved under the trees to try to escape surveillance, the French forces dispatched two Mirage jets and a drone to launch rockets, resulting in “disabling. “The rebels, Parly said.
Army spokesman Colonel Frederic Barbry said “four terrorists have been arrested”.
He told reporters during a conference meeting that explosives and a suicide jacket had been found, he said that the group was “about to strike a position (an army) in the area”.
Barbry also said that another campaign, this time targeting the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, is also underway, with a total of 3,000 soldiers.
He said the results of the activity, launched about a month ago, will be announced in the coming days.
– Significant blow –
Parly said the move marked a “blow” on the Islamist group Ansarul, which she believes is linked to Al-Qaeda through the GSIM coalition led by Iyad Ag Ghaly.
Ghaly has emerged as a leading jihadist leader in the Sahel since the death of commander Qaeda Abdelmalek Droukdel, who was destroyed by the French in Mali in June.
The United Nations has about 13,000 troops deployed in Mali as part of a peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSMA, while France has 5,100 troops deployed in the Sahel region.
Mali has struggled to contain a brutal jihadist uprising that first emerged in the north of the country in 2012, surpassing the revolt of mostly Tuareg ethnic separatists.
The former French colony launched a military campaign to drive away the Islamist forces in 2013, but the fighting spread to central Mali, to neighboring countries Burkina Faso and Niger, killing thousands and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes.
Large areas of Mali are beyond effective government control. Disappointment over the seemingly endless conflict has contributed to mass protests against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita this year, culminating in his ouster in a military coup on August 18. .
Many analysts say engaging in dialogue with jihadis is one of the few ways out of Mali’s spiral of violence, and government leaders in Bamako are increasingly looking at this option favorably. .
Mali’s new interim government, which was appointed to power 18 months before the election, appears ready to engage in dialogue.
Last month, it secured the release of four hostages captured by Muslim groups – including Sophie Petronin, 75, the last remaining French hostage in the world – in exchange for about 200 prisoners, one number of people are said to have jihad.
dab / js / mlr / spm / tgb