French troops kill 33 militants in Mali, Macron announces

French forces have killed 33 militants in an operation in Mali, according to President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron made the announcement on a visit to Ivory Coast, where he reiterated France’s commitment to fighting jihadists in the region.

It comes weeks after 13 French troops died in a helicopter collision in Mali in the biggest single-day loss of life for its military since the 1980s.

He said the “terrorists” were killed in an operation on Saturday in Mali’s Mopti region.

“This morning, thanks to an engagement by our soldiers and the Barkhane forces, we were able to neutralise 33 terrorists, take one prisoner and free two Malian gendarmes who had been held hostage,” he added.

France’s army command said the operation took place overnight near the Mauritanian border.

Thousands of French troops have been deployed in Mali since 2013.

Its involvement came after Islamist militants overran parts of the north. With the help of France, Mali’s army has recaptured the territory, but insecurity continues and violence has spread to neighbouring countries.

Some 4,500 French troops serve as part of Operation Barkhane in support of the forces of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.

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