(B2) Two French soldiers from the Barkhane force were wounded on Christmas Eve by one of their owns
Incident in Gao
The incident took place on New Year’s Eve (December 24-25) at the base in Gao, where both French soldiers of the Barkhane Force as well as Europeans (mostly Estonians) were present. The exact circumstances have yet to be clarified. But it seems that alcohol played a role in what appears to have been quite a slip-up.
Two wounded, one of whom was repatriated to France
“Following an altercation when under the influence of alcohol, a French soldier of the Barkhane force wounded two other soldiers with his automatic pistol,” the French army staff confirmed to B2. The two wounded soldiers were immediately taken care of by the Barkhane force’s health service but “their days are not in danger”, we were told. The more seriously injured soldier was repatriated to France, to the Percy Army Training Hospital in Clamart, according to our information.
Within the 1st regiment of riflemen
The one who fired the shots, just as the two wounded, belonged to the 1st Rifle Regiment (1st RTir or 1er régiment de tirailleurs) based in Épinal. This regiment is the heir of the African army (in particular the 7th Algerian Rifle Regiment) and is now in charge of site protection, logistics, maintenance and air combat at Gao military base. We have been assured that the incident did not have any effect outside this regiment. An investigation by the prévôté present in Gao (the gendarmerie of the armies) has been launched.
Comment: Despite its apparently innocuous character, this incident casts a shadow on the Barkhane Force at a key moment, as the French armies are seeking to put forward, with forceful reporting, the successes of the force and to convince the European partners to come as reinforcements, in order to be able to begin a (slight) withdrawal movement.