French forces killed more than 50 militants on Friday in airstrikes in central Mali. The group of jihadists was wiped out during an operation launched last week by France’s anti-jihadist force. The anti-jihadist force eliminated the militants near Mali’s border with Burkina Faso and Niger. France’s defense minister announced that the terrorists killed were linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist group.
Struggle to Contain Militants
Near the borders of Burkina Faso and Niger, government troops have been struggling to contain an Islamic insurgency. On October 30, the insurgents attempted to attack an army position in the region. However, as they were about to attack, one of the French drones detected a very large motorcycle caravan in the three borders area.
After the detection of movement in the area, the French-led anti-jihadist Operation Barkhane launched an offensive. Some jihadists realized their position had been discovered and tried to escape surveillance by taking cover under trees. To prevent their escape, the French forces sent two Mirage fighter jets and a drone to launch missiles.
The airstrike resulted in the neutralization of most of the terrorists in the three border areas. Also, the army destroyed around 30 motorcycles belonging to the militants. The French military spokesman Colonel Fredric Barbry reported they had seized weapons, explosives, and suicide vests found. He further stated that the French army had captured four terrorists during the operation.
The Emergence of Brutal Jihadists
The brutal jihadist insurgency first emerged in the north of Mali in 2012. The county has been struggling ever since to contain the jihadists. Due to this, the country’s former colonial power France launched a military operation to drive back the Islamists in 2013. The militants operating across the Sahel, however, managed to spread the fighting since 2012. The conflict extended to Central Mali and neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger. Due to this, hundreds of thousands of individuals have ended up fleeing their homes, with thousands ending up dead.
Mass Protests in Mali
This year frustrations over the seemingly endless conflict contributed to mass protests in Mali. The mass protests led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boucbacar Keita in a military coup on August 18. Mali seeks to solve the endless conflict this year with the new interim government.
So far, the government has realized that vast swathes of Mali lie outside effective government control. Due to this, they have decided to engage in dialogue with the jihadists as a means to escape the violent attacks.
Through some of these dialogues, the interim government secured the release of four captives. The Islamist groups agreed to release the captives in exchange for about 200 prisoners. Amongst the released captives was 75-year-old Sophie Petronin, the last remaining French hostage in the world. The people of Mali appointed a new government to rule for 18 months before staging elections.
Currently, France has more than 5,00 troops deployed in the Sahel region to combat insurgents. Additionally, the United Nations has some 13,000 troops deployed in Mali as part of its peacekeeping mission. The success of the French army’s` airstrike this week contributed greatly in repressing Jihadists.