A French soldier was killed in action in Mali on Friday morning, the French presidency announced in the evening, expressing “particularly strong feelings” from President Emmanuel Macron, who “reaffirms France’s determination in the fight against terrorism”.
Master Corporal Maxime Blasco, from the seventh battalion of alpine hunters in Varces (Isère), died in action “against an armed terrorist group”. According to army personnel, the victim was killed “during a reconnaissance and harassment operation led by the Barkhane Force in the Malian Gourma”, in the Gossi region, near the border between Mali and Burkina Faso.
– Elements of an armed terrorist group were discovered by a Reaper drone early in the morning in the N’Daki forest. A patrol of two attack helicopters was quickly deployed to neutralize them, staff continued. A group of commands from the Barkhane force were then placed on the ground to recognize the area of engagement.
“The command group was taken close by other parts of the terrorist group. During this operation, Corporal Maxime Blasco was hit by a sniper, who was neutralized by commands. Very seriously injured, captain Maxime Blasco quickly bowed to his injuries “, according to the army statement.
His death leads to 52 French soldiers killed in the Sahel since 2013 in the anti-jihadist operations of Serval and then Barkhane. On January 2, two soldiers, including a woman, both from the Second Hussar Regiment in Haguenau (Bas-Rhin), were killed in their light armored vehicle (LAV) by an “improvised explosive device” during a reconnaissance mission.
Five days earlier, three soldiers from the first regiment of hunters in Thierville-sur-Meuse (Meuse) had also fallen victim to a homemade bomb. Both deadly attacks were claimed by the Islamic and Muslim Support Group (GSIM), affiliated with al-Qaeda.