Two French soldiers killed during mission in Mali

France has announced that two French soldiers were killed in the African nation of Mali when an improvised explosive device hit their armored vehicle

PARIS -- The French presidency announced that two French soldiers were killed Saturday in Mali when an improvised explosive device hit their armored vehicle, five days after three others died in similar circumstances.

The soldiers were participating in an intelligence mission in the Menaka region of northeastern Mali, as part of a larger operation aiming at fighting Islamist extremists in Africa’s Sahel region.

A third soldier has been injured and is in a stable condition, the French military said.

On Monday, three other soldiers were killed in Mali when an improvised explosive device hit their armored vehicle during a military operation in the Hombori area of Mali’s central Mopti province.

France has more than 5,000 troops deployed in West Africa to help fight extremist groups as part of Operation Barkhane.

Islamic extremist rebels were forced from power in northern Mali after a 2013 French-led military operation. The rebels regrouped in the desert and now launch frequent attacks on the Malian army and its allies.

These deaths bring to 50 the number of French soldiers killed in the Sahel region since 2013.