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Mali helicopter collision: 13 French soldiers killed says Elysee





PARIS (AFP, FRANCE 24, REUTERS) - Thirteen soldiers from France’s anti-terrorist Barkhane force in Mali were killed after two helicopters collided during an operation in the country’s north, the French presidency said Tuesday.

The accident occurred on Monday evening while the forces were engaging jihadist fighters who have staged a series of deadly strikes in northern Mali in recent weeks, the Elysee Palace said.

Monday's deadly crash comes three weeks after a French soldier was killed by a roadside bomb while patrolling Mali's eastern border region.


The Sahel region straddling Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso is the scene of repeated clashes between jihadists and local forces backed by troops from Western countries.

Northern Mali came under the control of al Qaeda-linked jihadists after Mali's army failed to quash a rebellion there in 2012.

A French-led military campaign was launched against the jihadists, pushing them back a year later.

But the jihadists have regrouped and widened their hit-and-run raids and landmine attacks to central and southern Mali.

In addition to French troops, the UN has around 15,000 peacekeeping troops stationed in the country.

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