Paris, 26 Rabiul Akhir 2434/8 March 2013 (MINA) – France said Wednesday that a fourth French soldier had been killed during fighting against Islamist militants in Mali, according to The New Age report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA), Thursday (7/3).
       The presidency said in a statement that the soldier, with the 68th African Artillery Regiment based in Valbonne, had died in combat early Wednesday in eastern Mali, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the northern city of Gao.
       President Francois Hollande paid homage in the statement to “the sacrifice of this soldier who carried out his mission to free Mali of terrorist groups with courage and devotion.”
       France has suffered relatively few casualties during its operations in Mali, launched in mid-January to back up Malian forces against Islamist rebels who seized control of the country’s vast desert north last year.
       On Saturday a paratrooper was killed during an operation to flush out militants from the Ifoghas mountains in northern Mali.
       A legionnaire with the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment was killed amid heavy clashes on February 19 and a helicopter pilot died at the very start of the operation.
      The French-led intervention quickly ousted the rebels from the north’s main cities and fighting has intensified in recent days as efforts focus on hunting down the militants in mountainous areas. (T/P09/E1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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