DAMASCUS, SYRIA (8:40 A.M.) – The French Army is paying a high price for its counter-insurgency efforts in northern Africa after being repeatedly targeted by an Al-Qaeda franchise group known as ‘Support of Islam and Muslims’ (JNIM).
In an online bulletin released by JNIM’s media wing, the Al-Qaeda branch claimed to have targeted a French Army garrison some 20 kilometers north of Tessalit with an IED on July 8, resulting in the destruction of an armored vehicle and instantaneous death of 3 French soldiers.
Meanwhile on July 11, a second French armored vehicle was targeted by another improvised explosive device in the city of Kidal, thereby wounding an additional three French Army troops.
JNIM also claimed jihadists belligerents overran a police outpost in Mali’s province of Mobti on July 9 after which a number of guns were captured. One Al-Qaeda member was injured during the hit-and-run attack, the outlet did nevertheless admit.
The French Government is yet to address the alleged death of its soldiers.
France intervened in its former colony in January 2013 to drive out al-Qaeda-linked groups that hijacked a rebellion in 2012 by ethnic Tuaregs and attempted to take control of the central government in Bamako.
France has sent some 4,000 soldiers to the region, while United Nations’ peacekeepers have been deployed to ensure Mali’s stability.
Last week, JNIM also conducted its first attack against the Nigerian Army, seizing significant spoils of war in the process.