Mali explosion kills two French soldiers

A third soldier was injured when the troops’ armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device

FILE PHOTO: A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment uses an explosive detection kit in the Gourma region during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 28, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

Two French soldiers were killed in Mali and a third injured after their armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, Paris said on Saturday.

The soldiers were members of a paratrooper regiment and part of France’s Barkhane military operations against extremists in the sub-Saharan country.

The explosion happened in the Tessalit province of the north-eastern region of Kidal.

French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to the two dead soldiers and called for a swift transition to civilian rule after a military coup ousted Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last month.

More than 5,000 troops are serving in France’s Barkhane force in West Africa and there are fears the operation could be hampered after the deposition of Mr Keita last month.

According to the France’s army command, this latest incident brings to 45 the number of French soldiers who have died serving in the Sahel region since 2013.

In November 2019, France lost 13 soldiers in a single incident when two helicopters collided during an operation in Mali.

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