Early on Friday, a French soldier was killed in a clash with an armed militant group in Mali, French officials said.
Since Paris deployed a counterterrorism force in 2013 to drive back Islamist militant groups that had seized cities and towns in northern Mali, more than 50 French soldiers have died in the region.
According to a statement from the French Defence Ministry, the dead soldier, Maxime Blasco was part of a French unit deployed to a forested area near Mali’s border with Burkina Faso to track down a suspected militant group that had earlier been spotted by a drone.
The unit was supported by two attack helicopters and a surveillance drone, according to the statement.
Armed militants engaged the unit at close range and Blasco was shot by a sniper. The soldier quickly died from his wounds. The gunman who shot Blasco was killed, the ministry said.