Eleven suspected Islamist militants killed in northern Mali

Photo: Eleven suspected Islamist militants killed in northern Mali / Other News

Eleven suspected Islamist militants were killed and a French soldier injured during an anti-terrorism operation in northern Mali, the French army said Friday, dpa reported.

The casualties occurred when about 100 French air and ground forces on Wednesday night attacked a terrorist camp 100 kilometres north of Timbuktu, army spokesman Remy Libessa said.

"We are responding in an increasingly targeted way," Libessa said. "We recovered individual weapons. Two vehicles were destroyed."

The operation was launched after French forces discovered a militant camp - including a fuel pump, a firing range and vehicle repair facilities - in the area in late December.

French military forces have been searching for Islamist extremists in an area up to 200 kilometres north of Timbuktu for the past eight weeks. The country is recovering from a military coup and an Islamist insurgency.

France recently reduced its military presence in its former colony from 4,500 to 2,300 soldiers.

Germany, meanwhile, plans to boost its troop numbers in Mali to satisfy France's demands for European backup in African trouble spots, the country said this week.

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