Ninth French solider killed in Mali since conflict started

imgThe French Presidency announced on Tuesday the death of France’s ninth solider in the Mali conflict which began 18 months ago.

President Francois Hollande’s office said that a non-commissioned officer was killed Monday while on a reconnaissance mission and he expressed “deep sadness” upon learning of the report and sent condolences to the family of the lost solider.

France intervened in Mali in January 2013 to prevent radical Islamist groups and Tuareg rebels from overrunning the country.

At the highpoint of the fighting, France deployed over 4,000 troops in Mali but is gradually scaling back its military role there and being replaced by around 11,000 UN troops, many of them from other African countries.

But France says it will maintain some troops in the UN operation and also create a separate force of 1,000 men to intervene against “terrorist forces” in the region. Paris also intends later to deploy another 3,000 men in neighbouring countries like Chad and Niger for anti-terrorist operations.

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