French forces say 24 extremists killed in Mali operation
French forces have killed 24 extremists and seized arms in a large-scale operation in northern Mali, where it intervened last year to put down an Islamist rebellion, the French army said Saturday.
The operation that began on October 28 and ended Friday led to the "neutralisation of 24 terrorists and the capture of two others," a statement said.
A number of vehicles were destroyed while arms and bomb making materials were also seized, the statement said.
The operation in the Kidal region resulted in "weakening the terrorist networks in northern Mali and loosening their grip on the population" in the area, it said.
A French special forces soldier was killed on October 29 as part of the operation aimed at stemming the return of jihadists in the north.
The operation occurred in the Amettetai valley and the Tigharghar mountain range in Kidal.
French troops intervened in Mali in January 2013 to chase out hardline Islamists, including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which had seized control of the country's northern desert cities.
This intervention was replaced several months ago by a wider counter-terrorism operation, codenamed Barkhane, in five countries along the southern rim of the Sahara including Mali.
Barkhane includes 3,000 French soldiers.
© 2014 AFP