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Operation Panga and Bayard near Burkina Faso

(B2) On two occasions, at the beginning of April and the end of April, the men of the Barkhane force carried out operations to defeat 'armed terrorist groups' in the Foulsaré forest

Extraction by the paratrooper commando group. (credit: EMA / Dicod – B2 archives)

Operation Panga

For almost two weeks, from March 27 to April 10, 2017, the Malian (FAMa) and Burkinabe armed forces, with the Barkhane force, conducted a joint military operation (OMCT) in the border area south of Hombori, between Mali and Burkina Faso. baptized Panga, the operation aimed to fight against armed terrorist groups, in particular near the Foulsaré forest, a particularly complex area of ​​nearly 2500 km², known to serve as a refuge for terrorists of the group terrorist. Commanded from a tripartite command post deployed in Sévaré, the operation mobilized nearly 1300 soldiers, 200 vehicles and around ten helicopters from the three countries, successively carrying out reconnaissance and zone control phases and searches in the villages of the region. The Mirage 2000 and Reaper drones of the Barkhane force provided valuable operational support between intelligence, reconnaissance and support, not to mention tactical transport. The operation allowed to deepen the knowledge of this area, to collect intelligence, and to seize equipment » indicates the French army general staff. “ Two terrorists were neutralized, eight others captured and several dozen suspects handed over to Burkinabe authorities » "There must not be a place in the region where the GAT [armed terrorist groups] can be quiet", assured Division General de Woillemont, head of the Barkhane force.

The Bayard operation

In the process, on the following April 29, an action of opportunity was launched against an armed terrorist group in the Foulsaré forest near the border between Mali and Burkina Faso, southwest of Gao. Operation, called Bayard. Mirage 2000s first carried out strikes on the identified areas, followed by two attack helicopters Tigre to secure the area to allow the projection by Cayman helicopter of a first group of mountain commandos. Supported by aerial and airmobile means, the ground groups advanced at night towards the areas of the GAT [armed terrorist groups] to establish a cordon before searching the area around the enemy positions », Indicates the French army general staff. These “ do not engage in combat and flee, notably taking some of the wounded or killed ". " At the end of the night, parachute commandos and operational demining teams were airlifted to reinforce the troops already deployed. At the end of the morning, during the excavations carried out, the French soldiers were attacked by an adversary who also refused to fight and fled. »

Around twenty killed among the 'terrorists'

The excavations carried out in the area led to the seizure of 20 motorcycles, two pick-ups, weapons, ammunition, computer equipment as well as components used in the manufacture of explosive devices. The demining teams destroyed the equipment on site and all the soldiers were repatriated by helicopter at the end of the day on April 30. In the end, a balance sheet of about twenty terrorists " put out of action ».


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).