PARIS – A mid-air collision on Monday between 2 French Army helicopters has killed 13 French soldiers fighting against Islamic terrorists in Mali, French President Emmanuel Macron said with deep sadness on Tuesday.
The helicopter crash occured on Monday evening during a combat operation. French commandos were in pursuit of Islamic terrorists, when a French Army Cougar transport helicopter and Tigre attack helicopter – while giving close air support – collided for unclear reasons in mid-air.
Macron expressed his support in a written statement for the French military and stressed the “courage of the French soldiers” fighting the persistent Islamic threat in the Sahel region:
“Thirteen of our soldiers died yesterday in Mali. They were engaged in a combat operation against terrorists. These thirteen heroes had only one goal: to protect us. I bow to the pain of their loved ones and comrades”, Macron said in his statement on Twitter.
No further details were provided in the statement.
An investigation has been opened to determine the exact circumstances of the accident, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said.
‘Operation Barkhane’ in West and Central Africa involves 4,500 personnel and is France’s largest overseas military mission, launched in 2014 to combat jihadist activity across the Sahel region.
(Head photo: © Ministère de la Défense)