Jihadist group claim Mali attack that killed two French soldiers

A powerful jihadist alliance has claimed an attack on a French military vehicle in Mali that left two soldiers dead, Mauritanian media reported on Friday.

Jihadist group claim Mali attack that killed two French soldiers
French soldiers involved in the regional anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane patrol in Mali in 2016. File photo: AFP

Two soldiers from France's counter-terrorism force in West Africa were killed and another was hurt on Wednesday when their vehicle struck a mine in northeast Mali.

The Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), a fusion of three Malian jihadist groups with previous Al-Qaeda links, claimed the attack in a statement cited by Mauritania's Sahara Medias and widely shared on social media.

The group, also known as Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa'al- Muslimin (JNIM) in Arabic, have been behind several high profile attacks against domestic and foreign forces since forming last year.

The French army said the attack took place near Mali's borders with Niger and Burkina Faso, a bastion of jihadist activity where three French soldiers were injured in an attack last month.

Their deaths bring to 12 the number of French soldiers killed since the start of Operation Barkhane, which was launched to quell jihadist activity in the former French colony of Mali and in neighbouring countries.

Around 4,000 French troops are deployed under Operation Barkhane, alongside the UN's 12,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali.

READ ALSO: Three French soldiers wounded in Mali attack


Denmark to deploy special forces to Mali in 2022

Denmark plans to deploy about 100 special forces to Mali early next year to boost the elite anti-jihadist European task force Takuba headed by France, the government announced Thursday.

Denmark to deploy special forces to Mali in 2022
A UN aircraft about to depart Denmark for Mali in 2019. File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

“The terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda remainssignificant,” the foreign and defence ministries said in a joint statement.

“They want to create a hub in West Africa for their extremist regime… and we cannot allow that to happen,” they added.

The Danish contingent, which apart from the special forces will also include top level military officers and surgeons, will be deployed at the beginning of 2022, the ministries said.

Copenhagen also plans to send a military transport plane to assist the UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA.

The French-led Takuba multinational force, launched in March 2020, has already seen Czech, Swedish and Estonian troops deployed in the region but France has struggled to obtain significant support from its larger EU partners.