France begins drone war against Mali Jihadists

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France’s armed forces said on Monday that they have launched a drone strike targeting terrorists in Mali, the first-ever operation of its kind.

In a statement released on Monday, the armed forces said that the drone attack was carried out over the weekend in which seven terrorists were killed 150 km from the town of Mopti, it added.

“This is the first operational strike by an armed drone,” the statement said.

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The operation at the weekend was in an area controlled by the Katiba Macina, a ruthless Islamist group founded by radical Mopti preacher Amadou Koufa.

Two Malian gendarmes who had been held hostage were freed, and French troops seized a number of armed vehicles, motorbikes, and weaponry, “delivering a very heavy blow” to the jihadists, according to Monday’s statement.

France previously said it had killed 25 jihadists in two operations in the Sahel this month. Last month, 13 French soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash as they hunted jihadists in the north of Mali — the biggest single-day loss for the French military in nearly four decades.

On Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the French forces have “neutralized” 33 terrorists in the central Malian region of Mopti.

France has a 4,500-strong force fighting jihadists in the Sahel region since 2013.

*Xinhua and other wire agencies

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