French force Barkhane on Thursday arrested four suspected jihadists as part of an operation to “neutralize” the group of a major jihadist leader active in north-eastern Mali , near the border with Niger, a security source said.
It is in this zone of the Three Borders ( Mali , Niger, Burkina Faso) that two French soldiers were killed and one wounded Wednesday in the explosion of an artisanal mine at the passage of their vehicle.
According to the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, the incident occurred as part of a “vast area control operation” in this region of Mali deemed to be a refuge for jihadist groups that the G5 joint force Sahel’s mission is to hunt.
The suspects were intercepted near an area controlled by Jihadist leader Adnan Abu Walid Sahrawi who proclaimed himself founder of the organization called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
The group recently claimed a series of attacks against the Barkhane force since January in Mali and the deaths of American soldiers and two French soldiers.
Adnan Abu Walid Sahrawi’s group said on 13 January that it had formed an alliance with other Jihadist movements to prevent the five-country force.
These arrests come at a time when the financing of the G5 Sahel’s anti-terrorist force was at the heart of a meeting that brought together some 20 heads of state and government in Brussels on Friday.