Fifth French soldier killed in Mali operation
Paris, March 18 : A French corporal was killed during fighting in Mali, bringing to five the toll of the French military contingent fighting armed Islamists in the west African country, the president's office said.
President Francois Hollande Sunday expressed "the deepest condolences and the respect of the entire people to the family of the corporal of the first marine infantry regiment" killed in Mali, the presidential office said in a statement.
France deployed a military force in the African country in January to aid Mali's government whose army had been retreating before the attack of armed groups with ties to Al Qaeda.
Mali, a French colony until 1960, has been in turmoil since last March's military coup, which triggered an uprising of separatist Tuareg tribes that seized control of the country's south.
The Tuaregs were soon suppressed by the better armed Al Qaeda affiliates, who overtook control of the northern region, imposing Sharia law and destroying historical heritage sites in Timbuktu, and later started a southward advance.
France has sent about 4,000 troops to Mali to fight the militants.