BAMAKO: Two helicopters collided in midair and killed 13 French soldiers fighting Islamic extremists in Mali, France said Tuesday, in its biggest loss since its mission in West Africa’s Sahel region began in 2013.
The deaths draw new attention to a worrying front in the global fight against extremism. Attackers linked to the Islamic State or al-Qaida this month alone have killed scores of local troops in the region and ambushed a convoy carrying employees of a Canadian mining company, leaving at least 37 dead.
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed “deep sadness” after the Monday evening crash. “These 13 heroes had only one goal: protecting us,” he tweeted.