PARIS (Reuters) – The French army said on Thursday forces from its Operation Barkhane in West Africa had killed close to 40 militants in a strike near the border of Niger with Burkina Faso on June 14.
Following an attack against Niger gendarmes and acting at the request of authorities in Niger, Barkhane forces used air surveillance to track a column of 40 motorcycles, carrying out the strike in close cooperation with Niger forces, the statement said.
“Our military commitment in the Sahel-Sahara area to fight terrorism, along our African partners is total,” Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Twitter.
Niger, a former French colony, agreed in February to host special forces transferred from neighbouring Mali as France withdrew troops deployed there since 2013 to help fight Islamist militants.
Separately, armed men killed at least 100 civilians in a rural district of northern Burkina Faso close to the border with Niger over the weekend, a security source said.
A French armed forces spokesman said he could not say if there was a link between these events.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Tassilo Hummel and Alex Richardson)