West Africa - Sahel

Third French soldier killed in action in Mali. 3 terrorist leaders killed according to Chadians

(BRUSSELS2) A soldier from the 1st Parachute Fighter Regiment of Pamiers died on Saturday (March 2) evening in northern Mali, the Elysée and the Ministry of Defense have just confirmed successively.

Corporal Cédric Charenton had been engaged in Operation Serval since January 25 and was fatally hit around 18 p.m. by enemy fire (…) in the Adrar massif, in the north of Mali. (He) was killed by armed groups during a violent clash while his section was attacking an enemy position in the heart of the terrorist sanctuary “says the press release from the ministry.

« Only 26 years old, Corporal Cédric Charenton has demonstrated his courage many times during the missions he has carried out in New Caledonia, Afghanistan and Gabon. The memory of his sacrifice in one of the most violent battles that our forces have known on Malian territory will liven us up forever. Corporal Charenton, engaged for less than four years in the Army, died for France, for our freedom, for our security. “said Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defense who paid tribute to him and sent his condolences to his family and loved ones.

More than 10.000 men deployed by the French and Africans

He is the third French soldier killed as part of Operation Serval aimed at reconquering northern Mali. A helicopter pilot NCO died on the first day of the operation. A second died on Tuesday (February 19) during a violent clash in the Ifoghas. The fighting becomes harsher in this rugged terrain. The Chadian army announced, for its part, having lost 26 men in the Idrar des Ifoghas massif.

The determination "of France, engaged for fifty days" to restore its sovereignty to the State and to the people of Mali ", is " total » specifies Minister JY Le Drian, while “4000 soldiers are now engaged in the Malian battle”. To this figure we must add the 2500 Chadians - who are alongside the French in northern Mali - and the 4000 MISMA soldiers who have already arrived on the ground but whose effectiveness has not yet been proven.

Presumed death of some terrorist leaders

Chad has officially announced the death of several terrorist leaders: Agh, Abouzaid (Algerian, member of the GSPC, the head of Aqmi in Mali), Mokhtar Belmokhtar (the inspiration for the hostage-taking of In Amenas in Algeria ). The death of the first two was announced in person by Chadian President Idriss Déby on Friday (March 1) during an official ceremony honoring the fallen soldiers. “It is for the first time since the outbreak of the war in Mali, that there was direct combat on February 22, 2013. And it was the Chadian soldiers who faced the obscurantist forces in the Idrar des Ifoghas massif. They destroyed their base and killed the two great jihadist leaders, Agh and Abouzaîd in northern Mali »

The third terrorist leader killed was revealed yesterday (Saturday March 2), by the deputy chief of staff of the Chadian army, during an intervention on the Chadian national channel. General Zakaria Ngobongue thus announced “ the total destruction of the main jihadist and narco-terrorist base in the Ametetai valley, in the Adrar des Ifoghas massif “in an operation carried out around 12 p.m. as well as the death of the chief” Mokhtar Belmokhtar said the One-Eyed ". The Chadian officer specified that 60 vehicles in good working order had been recovered as well as various war materials “ including electronic equipment ". " The search continues in pursuit of the fugitives he added martially.

Listen the press release from the Chadian General Staff read on national television (source: Tchad Infos)

Unconfirmed information

This information has not yet been confirmed in Paris. “ I have no information or confirmation, or even any particular comments to make. » thus declared the spokesman of the Quai on Friday (March 1), thus taking up the formula of François Hollande, the French president, a few hours earlier: “Information is circulating, I do not have to confirm it”.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).