The French Ministry of the Armed Forces acknowledged the death of three French soldiers in Mali. The incident took place on December 28. The armored personnel carrier of the French Armed Forces was blown up with an improvised explosive device (IED) when it was carrying out an escort mission between the villages of Gosse and Mount Ombori, near the Burkina-Faso border.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. Al-Qaeda remains the main suspect.
“On Monday, 28 December, in the early morning, during an escort mission between HOMBORI and GOSSI, a light armored vehicle (LAV) of the Barkhane Force was hit by an improvised explosive device. Despite the immediate intervention of the medical team and the care provided, the three soldiers belonging to the 1er fighters’ regiment of Thierville-sur-Meuse (55) could not be revived.” – the statement of the French Ministry reads.
The victims of an IED attack were Brig. Chief Tanerii Mauri, 28, Fighters 1st Class Dorian Issakhanian, 23, and Quentin Pauchet, 21.
The soldiers were part of France’s Operation Barkhane mission, which is fighting an Islamist extremist insurgency in Africa’s Sahel region. It consists of 5,000 French troops and is lead on the territory of the “G5 Sahel”: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, all former French colonies. The mission is permanently headquartered in the capital of Chad, N’Djamena.
44 French soldiers have died since the beginning of the mission in the Sahel in January 2013.
In September, three soldiers in an armored vehicle were hit by an IED in Tessalit, also in northern Mali. Two of them died and the third was injured.
In recent months, the French Army and those of the African G5 Sahel countries claimed to have stepped up offensives. The Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen. François Lecointre, had visited Hombari as well as in Niger on 10 and 11 December. He then hailed the “many tactical successes” and «the improvement of the security situation in the area.”
Faced with the persistence of jihadist violence, coupled with intercommunal conflicts, the transitional authorities in Mali do not exclude starting negotiations with armed groups. France, which has a more intransigent stance, does not oppose negotiations between Sahelian States and some jihadist elements, with the fundamental exception of al Qaeda and Islamic State Leadership.
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