Mali's army has confirmed it took part in a joint attack last week with French and European forces that killed at least 20 Islamist militants. The attack in southern Mali went ahead despite rising tensions between Mali’s government and the country’s former colonial power.
French and Estonian Takuba Task Force troops, along with soldiers from the Malian armed forces, killed “nearly 30 Islamists” in the Liptako region of Mali, near the borders with Niger and Burkina Faso, according to a statement from the French Army Ministry on Tuesday.
The statement also says that equipment and fuel was seized, and that vehicles and “about 10 kilograms of explosives” were destroyed during the joint operation, which involved ground forces, drone surveillance and a Mirage 2000 fighter jet.
The Malian army also released a statement Tuesday referencing several recent operations, including an operation with the Takuba Task Force in In Délimane, the same locality cited in the French Army Ministry statement.
Colonel Souleymane Dembele, a spokesperson for the Malian army, confirmed by telephone that the operation cited in the French statement is the same operation cited by the Malian Army.
Twenty terrorists were killed and several vehicles destroyed, according to the Malian statement, as well as several weapons recovered.
The French and European military operations in Mali have grown increasingly unpopular as the country struggles to contain Islamist militant activity.
On Monday, Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga said during a meeting with the diplomatic community that the Takuba Task Force was created “to divide Mali,” among several other accusations aimed at the French military intervention.
French forces arrived in 2013 to help Mali fight militant groups that had taken over the country’s north.
The Takuba Task Force is a European operation deployed in 2020, made up of about 900 soldiers. The government asked a Danish contingent of the task force to leave soon after it arrived in January.