Two French soldiers deployed in Mali were killed at the weekend when their vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device, according to a statement by the French presidency.

The troops were part of Operation Barkhane, in which some 5 000 French troops are operating in cooperation with the West African Francophone countries of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. The deployment, which began in 2014, is aimed at combating jihadist insurgencies in the region.

France has lost some 45 troops in the course of this operation.

A coup toppled the government of Mali last month, motivated in part by the failure of the government to bring an end to the insurgency. Some analysts have expressed concerns that the coup could further undermine the counter-insurgency efforts.

[Picture: TM1972, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52896018]

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