Thirty jihadists were killed in a clash with French and Malian troops near Mali's border with Niger, the French military said yesterday.
The fight, involving a group of about 60 jihadists, took place on Sunday in the Akabar area, spokesman Colonel Patrik Steiger said, adding that Malian forces sustained "losses" but there were no French casualties.
French commandos and Malian forces began a "reconnaissance and control operation" in the Akabar region on March 28, working in liaison with the Nigerien army and a local self-defence group, Steiger said.
"On April 1, they were confronted by an ATG [armed terrorist group] estimated to number 60 individuals, around 90 kilometres (55 miles) south of Menaka and three kilometres from the Nigerien border," he said.
The border zone is used as a haven by the jihadist group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), he said.
The French deployed two Gazelle combat helicopters and two Mirage 2000 warplanes in support of their troops, but these aircraft did not carry out any attacks, Steiger said.
France intervened militarily in Mali in 2013 to help government forces drive al-Qaeda-linked jihadists out of the north.