Coming as a significant blow to the dreaded Islamic terrorist organisation, over 50 Al-Qaeda linked terrorists have been killed in a French airstrike in Mali. The operation is said to have taken place on October 30 (Friday). The French Army has confiscated arms and ammunitions. Almost 30 motorcycles were destroyed in the offensive.
The airstrikes are believed to have happened in border areas of Burkina Faso and Niger.
Meanwhile, Colonel Frederic Barbry, the French Military spokesperson also informed that “four terrorists have been captured”. Explosives and a suicide vest had been found, Barbry told reporters in a conference call, furthering that the terrorist group was preparing to attack (an army) position in the region.
Referring to the French-led anti-jihadist Operation Barkhane, the French Defence Minister Florence Parly said: “On October 30 in Mali, the Barkhane force conducted an operation that neutralised more than 50 jihadists and confiscated arms and material.”
The French Defence Minister, who had met Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou and her Nigerien counterpart Issoufou Katambe before heading to Bamako, informed that the operation was launched after a drone detected a “very large” motorcycle caravan in the “three borders” area.
French force sent in two Mirage jets and a drone to carry out airstrike, leading to the “neutralisation” of over 50 terrorists in border areas of Mali
When the Islamic terrorists moved under trees to try and escape surveillance, the French force sent in two Mirage jets and a drone to launch missiles, leading to the “neutralisation” of over 50 terrorists, Parly said, calling this operation a “significant blow” to the Ansarul Islam group which she said was linked to Al-Qaeda via the GSIM alliance led by Iyad Ag Ghaly.
Barbry also said that another operation, this time targeting the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, was also underway, with a total of 3,000 soldiers.
The results of the operation, launched about a month ago, would be announced in the coming days, he said.
Islamic insurgency in Mali, Africa
Mali, a landlocked country in West Africa, has been struggling to contain the Islamic terrorism which first emerged in the north of the country in 2012, overtaking a rebellion by mostly ethnic Tuareg separatists. Attacks have since spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and are threatening other neighbouring countries. The entire region remains unstable.
France, which had earlier ruled these regions, had launched a military operation to drive back the Islamists in 2013. Over the years, fighting and civil unrest have engulfed the country and spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger leaving thousands dead in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people remain internally displaced, many seeking ways to flee to other countries for survival.
The United Nations has some 13,000 troops deployed in Mali as part of its peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSMA, while France has 5,100 personnel deployed in the Sahel region.