French soldier seriously injured in Mali by landmine
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A French soldier in Mali has been seriously injured by an improvised explosive device while on duty in the region of Liptako that straddles Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, military staff have confirmed.
“His armoured vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device” while on duty in In Figaren, just east of Ansongo in the region of Liptako, explained Colonel Frédéric Barbary to AFP.
He confirmed that the soldier would be evacuated immediately back to France.
Since 2013, French soldiers have been deployed in the north of Mali as part of an anti-jihad force.
Operation Serval brought some 4,500 soldiers to the area to put down an Islamist takeover.
Its successor, Operation Barkhane, took over in 2014 and continues to monitor a large region in the Sahel as it combats jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State armed group and al-Qaeda.
In addition to patrolling the area, the French forces are tasked with training local security forces to take on jihadists, but to date these local services remain unprepared due to a lack of funding and equipment despite years of international pledges.
But in the six years since the French have intervened, jihadists continue to spread in the north of Mali and also into neighbouring countries, particularly Burkina Faso and Niger.
Since Islamists have surfaced in the area in 2012, the level of violence between different communities has doubled, killing thousands and displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians.
After being pushed out of one area, the Islamists have simply regrouped to carry out deadly attacks in another.
Thirteen French soldiers were killed on 25 November following a fight against jihadists in the north-east of Mali.
Their deaths were the biggest single-day loss for the French military in nearly four decades and raised questions about the validity and effectiveness of France’s Barkhane operation.
Since France’s intervention began, 41 soldiers have been killed in the Sahel.
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