A French soldier was killed during a maintenance operation in northern Mali, Defense Minister Florence Parly said on Wednesday, bringing the death toll in France since the start of anti-Jihadist operations in the region to 53.
The soldier, identified as NCO Adrien Quélin, “died [on Tuesday] after an accident that occurred during a maintenance operation in Timbuktu, “Parly wrote on Twitter.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal told French television that an investigation was underway.
Le maréchal des logis Adrien Quélin is decorated in the suite of an accident during a maintenance operation in Tombouctou au Mali. Je salue son engagement et m’incline devant sa mémoire. Month I thought vont à sa famille, ses proches et frères d’armes.
– Florence Parly (@florence_parly) October 13, 2021
A total of 53 French soldiers have died in the troubled Sahel region since Paris deployed an anti-terrorist force in 2013 to push back militant Islamist groups that took over cities and towns in northern Mali.
Mali, a poor and landlocked nation, continues to fight jihadist attacks and inter-community violence, which often spread to neighboring countries.
France has started to reorganize its forces in the region this year, including withdrawing its bases further north in Mali at Kidal, Timbuktu and Tessalit.
Total French troops in the region will drop from 5,000 today to between 2,500 and 3,000 by 2023.