French soldier killed in northern Mali
Paris: A French legionnaire was killed during a reconnaissance mission in northern Mali, taking to nine the number of soldiers to have died in the west African country since 2013, President Francois Hollande`s office said Tuesday.
The soldier died on Monday in the Al-Moustarat region, the presidency said, without specifying if he had been killed in combat or in an accident.
France kicked off the so-called Serval offensive in January last year to help Malian soldiers stop Al-Qaeda-linked militants and Tuareg rebels from advancing on the capital Bamako from the north of its former colony.
France -- which currently has 1,700 soldiers in Mali -- had initially planned to end Serval in May and redeploy troops to the Sahel region, but fresh clashes between rebels and the army in the flashpoint northern town of Kidal forced Paris to delay the pullout, which it officially announced on Sunday.