French and Malian troops have killed over 30 jihadists as well as dismantling a terrorist training camp in a major joint counterterrorism operation near Mali’s border with Burkina Faso.
The operation was launched in late March in the Gourma, a crossroads region in Mali’s central belt that flanks the border with Burkina Faso. The Gourma area is a haven for armed groups who hide in the forests along the border with Burkina Faso to the south, including a group suspected of carrying out several cross-border attacks.
The operation that occurred in phases has been able to destroy a logistical center for the terrorists as well as seize vehicles, at least 12 motor bikes and arms and ammunition, including large amounts of material used to make roadside bombs.
4,500 French troops are deployed in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad to help local forces try to flush out jihadist groups, six years after France helped chase al-Qaeda out of northern Mali. However, the threat has resurfaced with a conglomerate of several jihadi groups mostly allied to ISIS and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) that conduct cross-border attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso.