PARIS (Reuters) – French forces have “put out of action” some 30 Islamist militants, possibly including veteran Malian jihadist leader Amadou Koufa, during a raid in the central Mali region of Mopti, the army said on Friday.
The French army, which has about 4,500 troops in West Africa battling Islamist militants, did not specify whether the jihadists had all been killed or taken prisoner. The operation took place with air support on Thursday night, it said.
“At this stage of the evaluation of the operation, it appears that about 30 terrorists were put out of action,” the army said in its statement, adding that Koufa and other prominent militants were probably among them.
Koufa, a radical preacher, inspired the Massina Liberation Front (MLF), a group blamed for a wave of attacks that has shifted Mali’s six-year-old Islamist insurgency from the remote desert north ever closer to its populous south.
Reporting by Sophie Louet; writing by John Irish; editing by Gareth Jones