French forces neutralised 33 terrorists in Mali: Macron

French forces neutralised 33 terrorists in Mali: Macron

Reuters file photo

French President Emmanuel Macron said 33 "terrorists" had been "neutralised" in an operation by French forces in central Mali on Saturday.

He said in a speech to the French community in Ivory Coast that French soldiers had also released two Malian gendarmes being held by jihadists in the city of Mopti.

Macron is visiting Ivory Coast to celebrate Christmas with French troops and said on Friday that Paris would work to give "new force" to the fight against Islamist militants in Africa's Sahel region.

The jihadist insurgency in several poor Sahel nations will be a top item on Macron's agenda in his 48-hour stay in a region where attacks have spread since the Islamist militancy began seven years ago in Mali.

Last month, 13 French soldiers lost their lives in a helicopter crash in northern Mali as they were chasing jihadists.

The crash was the biggest single-day loss for the French military in nearly four decades and raised fresh questions about the effectiveness of France's 4,500-member Barkhane operation in the Sahel.