French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly began Monday morning in Chad a visit to the Sahel countries, two days after the death in Mali of a French soldier of the anti-Jihadist operation Barkhane, in a very degraded regional security context.
« This trip is taking place in an extremely difficult security context, » the minister told AFP on the plane taking her to N’Djamena, where she was scheduled to meet with Chadian President Idriss Déby and General Pascal on Monday morning. Facon, new commander of the Barkhane force mobilizing 4,500 French soldiers in the Sahel-Saharan band.
Parly’s visit to the Sahel, whose next steps were still confidential for security reasons, comes as a French soldier died Saturday in northeastern Mali, near the Niger border, the day after an attack in the same region against a Malian military base that left 49 dead.
The laying of the craft craft that killed French Brigadier Ronan Pointeau was claimed by the Jihadist group Islamic State in the Great Sahara (EIGS), as was the attack the day before against the Malian armed forces base (FAMa).
Jihadist violence continues in northern Mali, six years after the French military intervention Serval. They spread to the center of the country as well as neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, often mingling with inter-community conflicts that left hundreds dead.
The national armies of these Sahelian countries, among the poorest in the world, seem unable to stop the progression of attacks despite the support of foreign troops, including French soldiers.
A neighbor of Mali, Burkina Faso has been caught for almost five years in a spiral of violence attributed to jihadist movements, some affiliated to Al Qaeda and others to the Islamic State group. Since 2016, 204 Burkinabè soldiers have been killed in jihadist attacks, which resulted in at least 630 civilian and military deaths according to an AFP count.