April 12, 2016 / 3:18 PM / 2 years ago

French soldier killed by landmine in northern Mali

PARIS (Reuters) - A French soldier was killed in Mali by a landmine on Tuesday, underlining persistent insecurity in the region a month after Islamist militants attacked a luxury beach hotel in Ivory Coast, the French presidency said in a statement.

The soldier, the fifteenth to die in Mali since Paris intervened in its former colony in January 2013 to oust Islamist militants, was killed after his vehicle hit an explosive device.

Several others were injured, President Francois Hollande’s office said.

About 3,500 French troops are stationed in West Africa to help restore stability after a rebellion in 2012 by ethnic Tuaregs in Mali that was later hijacked by jihadists linked to al Qaeda.

The forces drove the Islamists out of urban centers in northern Mali but did not eradicate their networks. French officials have said that the militants are likely to change their methods and that West African security forces should increasingly prepare for counter-terrorism operations.

Al Qaeda’s north African arm (AQIM) last month said it had carried out an attack on a beach resort town in neighboring Ivory Coast that killed 19 people in retaliation for French military operations in the region.

Reporting by John Irish and Marine Pennetier in Dakar; Editing by Ingrid Melander

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