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French soldier killed in action in Mali

A French soldier was killed in action in Mali on Friday morning, the Elysee Palace announced in the evening, expressing “Particularly lively emotion” of President Emmanuel Macron, in a tense context between Paris and Bamako.

Master corporal Maxime Blasco, of the 7th battalion of alpine hunters of Varces (Isère), received in June the military medal “For the exceptional value of its services”, specifies the Elysee in a press release.

His death brings to 52 the number of French soldiers killed in action in the Sahel since 2013 in the anti-jihadist operations Serval and then Barkhane.

According to the army staff, the victim was killed “During a reconnaissance and harassment operation led by the Barkhane Force in the Malian Gourma”, in the region of Gossi, near the border between Mali and Burkina Faso. “Elements of an armed terrorist group were detected by a Reaper drone early in the morning, in the N’Daki ​​forest. A patrol of two attack helicopters was quickly engaged to neutralize them ”, continued the staff. A group of commandos from the Barkhane force was then deployed on the ground to reconnoitre the area of ​​engagement. “The commando group was taken at close range by other elements of the terrorist armed group. During this action, Master Corporal Maxime Blasco was hit by a sniper, which was neutralized by the commandos. Very seriously injured, Master Corporal Maxime Blasco quickly succumbed to his injuries ”, according to the army statement.

The leader of the Islamic State group in the Great Sahara killed by French forces

The new death comes as Paris has claimed responsibility for “Neutralization” in August in Mali by the leader of the jihadist group Islamic State in the Great Sahara (EIGS), Adnan Abou Walid al-Sahraoui, an operation described as “Major success” for France at a time when its troops are reorganizing in the Sahel to focus on the fight against terrorism.

Can France leave Mali?

But it also intervenes in a tense context between Paris and the junta in power in Bamako, which plans to conclude a contract with the sulphurous Russian paramilitary company Wagner, described as close to Russian power. A deployment of these mercenaries would be ” incompatible “ with the maintenance in Mali of French troops, who have been fighting the jihadists in the Sahel for eight years, warned the head of French diplomacy, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

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On January 2, two soldiers, including a woman, both from the 2nd Hussar Regiment from Haguenau (Bas-Rhin), were killed in their light armored vehicle (LAV) by a “Improvised explosive device”. Five days before, three soldiers of the 1st regiment of hunters of Thierville-sur-Meuse (Meuse) had also been victims of a homemade bomb. Both fatal attacks were claimed by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

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