Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:16PM
French soldiers stand in Bourem, northern Mali on February 17, 2013.

French soldiers stand in Bourem, northern Mali on February 17, 2013.

A French soldier has been killed in clashes with fighters in a mountainous region of northern Mali, French President Francois Hollande says. "A legionnaire from the 22nd parachute regiment has died …in northern Mali," the French president told reporters during a visit to the Greek capital, Athens, on Tuesday. France launched the war on Mali on January 11 under the pretext of halting the advance of fighters in the country. Earlier on January 12, France’s Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement that a French Air Force pilot was killed in a helicopter raid which had been carried out a day earlier near the central town of Konna. Some political analysts believe that Mali’s abandoned natural resources, including gold and uranium reserves, could be one of the reasons behind the French war. On February 1, Amnesty International condemned “serious human rights breaches” including the killing of children in the French war in Mali. The rights organization said there was “evidence that at least five civilians, including three children, were killed in an airstrike” carried out by French forces against the local fighters. Chaos broke out in the West African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government's inability to contain the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country, which had been going on for two months. MR/JR
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