Sixth French soldier dies in Mali

April 30, 2013 at 10:02 AM
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BAMAKO, Mali, April 30 (UPI) -- The number of French soldiers killed since France sent troops to Mali in January rose to six, with a death reported in northern Mali, French officials said.

The French Defense Ministry said Cpl. Stephane Duval, 32, was killed and two other soldiers were seriously wounded in an explosion Monday near Boughessa, Radio France Internationale reported.

When offering condolences to Duval's family, French President Francois Hollande praised "the determination and courage of the French forces engaged in Mali alongside Malian and [other] African forces."

France sent troops to its former colony in Africa to help Mali forces fight al-Qaida-linked groups that seized control of northern Mali following a military coup.

France has started withdrawing its 4,500 troops.

The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution calling for a 12,600-troop peacekeeping force for Mali. Peacekeepers could be in Mali by midsummer, taking over duties from a 6,000-member African-led force. The resolution calls for a one-year mission with up to 11,200 military personnel and 1,400 police who would assume duties July 1 and which would include some of the African-led force.

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