French soldiers from Operation Barkhane eliminated 40 jihadists in Burkina Faso, involved in recent attacks in neighboring northern Benin that left 9 dead, including a former French soldier.
After these three homemade bomb attacks which also injured 12 of the teams responsible for the security of the W natural park, the Barkhane force, “alert by its Beninese and Burkinabè partners, (…) engaged aerial intelligence capabilities to locate this armed group” responsible for the attacks before carrying out airstrikes on Thursday in which 40 jihadists were killed, detailed a press release from the French army.
“On the morning of February 10, after having located and identified a first column of terrorists traveling on motorcycles, in agreement and in permanent coordination with the Burkinabè authorities, a first air strike was carried out by a Reaper drone as the column came to enter Burkinabè territory (and) a dozen terrorists were neutralized”, according to the staff.
The Mirage 2000s in action
“The engagement of a patrol of Mirage 2000 fighters made it possible to carry out three new strikes targeting groups of terrorists near the site of the first strike”, during which “more than thirty terrorists were neutralized, a pick-up and more than a dozen motorcycles were destroyed,” the statement added.
Benin was until recently considered a stable country in West Africa, a region where many jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh operate. A recent series of border raids in countries south of the Sahel, however, confirmed fears that these terrorists in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso are seeking to advance towards the coast.
France, which has been fighting jihadists in the Sahel for nine years, may well announce the withdrawal of its troops from Mali in the coming days, as the ruling junta in Bamako shows growing hostility to the French presence. . Paris nevertheless retains the firm intention of continuing to fight against the spread of jihadism in the region. The staff wishes to strengthen its cooperation activities there and provide key capabilities to the local staffs.