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French soldier killed in accident in Mali

Corporal Abdelatif Rafik was deployed to Operation Barkhane in the Sahel

A French soldier has died in accident while performing maintenance on a truck while deployed to Operation Barkhane in Mali, the army said on Thursday, October 18.

Corporal Abdelatif Rafik, 23, from Bergerac, was a member of the 14th Paratroop Logistics Support Infantry Regiment and was on his second deployment to the Sahel with the Desert Tactical Group Logistics – Phenix.

He was working on a logistics truck with two comrades on Wednesday when a tire exploded. Despite emergency care he later died, the army said in a statement.

Corporal Rafik joined the army in 2014 and had previously served in Lebanon, Central African Republic and in 2017 deployed to Mali for the first time.

Islamic extremists linked to al-Qaeda took control of the desert north of Mali in early 2012, exploiting a Taureg separatist uprising. France began a military intervention the next year that evolved into the current Operation Barkhane deployment with a mandate for counter-terror operations across the Sahel region, encompassing Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Around 4,500 French personnel are deployed to Operation Barkhane, and they work alongside the G5 Sahel joint counter-terrorism force, as well as peacekeepers deployed to the United Nations Minusma stabilization mission in Mali.

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