09:44 GMT28 November 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – French servicemen, engaged in the Operation Barkhane in Africa's Sahel region, have neutralized around 30 terrorists in Mali, the French Armed Forces Ministry said.

    "Overnight into November 23, 2018, the French forces part of the Operation Barkhane dealt a major blow to the Macina Liberation Front terror group in the Mopti area of Mali … At the current stage of the assessment of the operation, we can see that around 30 terrorists were neutralized," the Armed Forces Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

    The statement suggested that Hamadoun Kouffa, the leader of the Macina Liberation Front Islamist group, and his key associates might have been among those affected by the French offensive.

    Operation Barkhane has been ongoing since 2014. Apart from Mail, the mission entails Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger.

    In October, the Council of Ministers of Mali prolonged by a year the state of emergency that was first introduced in the conflict-hit country in November 2015 following a deadly attack on a Bamako hotel.

    The situation in Mali was destabilized in 2012 when the Tuareg militants seized vast territories in the northern part of the country. The conflict escalated even more over the activities of Islamists, forces loyal to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as well as French interference.

    READ MORE: Mali Crisis: French Peacekeepers Trapped in Inter-Ethnic Conflicts



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