A soldier of the French force “Barkhane” in the Sahel was killed Thursday July 23 in the region of Gossi, in central Mali, “During battles against armed terrorist groups”, announced the Elysee Palace and the French army.
“The armored vehicle [dans lequel était le soldat] jumped into contact with a suicide vehicle loaded with explosives “, said the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, in a press release. During the explosion, two other soldiers present in the vehicle, which was on a reconnaissance mission, were also injured, then evacuated in serious condition to the military hospital in Gao before being repatriated in the evening, he said. know the staff.
After the attack, “The unit in contact immediately engaged in combat. At the same time, two Tiger helicopters and then a Reaper drone were deployed to support the elements on the ground “, clarified the staff of the armies.
43 dead since 2013
The president, Emmanuel Macron, “Bows with deep respect to the sacrifice of this soldier, who died in the accomplishment of his mission in the service of France”, said the Elysee. “He salutes the commitment, courage and determination of our soldiers deployed in the Sahel and renews their full confidence in them for the success of their mission”.
The slain soldier, Tojohasina Razafintsalama, was born on October 20, 1994 in Mahazarivo, Madagascar. This childless bachelor had signed up with the 1er Tarbes parachute hussar regiment in 2018 and had been deployed to Mali on July 14.
His death brings to 43 the number of French soldiers killed in action in operations “Serval” (2013) and “Barkhane” (since 2014), according to the general staff. It occurs after that, at the beginning of May, of two legionaries of the French force “Barkhane” in the Sahel.
“An enemy at bay”
At the start of the year, the strength of “Barkhane” increased from 4,500 to 5,100 soldiers. Paris hopes this reinforcement will help reverse the balance of power on the ground, where jihadist groups have stepped up attacks in recent months.
In November, France lost thirteen soldiers in an accident between two helicopters operating in Mali. Paris was subsequently openly annoyed at a support deemed too timid for the “Barkhane” force, notably from the Sahelian authorities, including those in Bamako.
A G5 Sahel summit in Pau, in January, then in Nouakchott on June 30, allowed the protagonists to reiterate their determination to continue the fight. In recent months, the French army and those of the G5 Sahel countries have stepped up offensives in the Sahel, in particular in the so-called “Three borders” between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. They claimed the “Neutralization” tens of jihadists, including the emir of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Algerian Abdelmalek Droukdal, in June. “We have an enemy who is on the back, who is at bay and who is weakened, but we are never safe. He is still capable of dealing blows. The fight goes on “said Colonel Frédéric Barbry, spokesman for the staff.