French peacekeeping troops killed several militiamen after they came under attack during a patrol in the north of the Central African Republic, an officer with the African peacekeeping force said Tuesday.
France said on Sunday its military offensive that freed northern Mali from the grip of Islamists would be replaced by an operation spanning the wider, largely lawless Sahel region to combat extremist violence.
French peacekeeping troops in Central African Republic using helicopter gunships and mortars fought Muslim rebels on Saturday at a bridge in the town of Bambari northeast of the capital Bangui, a Reuters witness said.
French peacekeepers killed several militants during a three-hour battle on Monday after coming under attack from some 40 heavily armed unidentified gunmen in the northwest of Central African Republic, a French Army official said on Tuesday.
Rudimentary weapons taken from Christian extremist militias by French troops in the capital of the Central African Republic were piled up on the ground, near the body of a young man whose ears were ripped off.
Dozens of French forces have left the northern Malian town of Timbuktu several months after their military operation largely ousted radical Islamic fighters from the area, a French military official said on Sunday.
French soldiers today recovered an enormous stash of explosives that authorities believe radical Islamic fighters were using to make bombs for attacks on northern Mali`s largest city, a Malian military spokesman said.
French airstrikes targeted the fuel depots and desert hideouts of Islamic extremists in northern Mali overnight as a military spokeswoman said that French forces plan to hand control of Timbuktu to the Malian army this week.