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Africa

Two French soldiers wounded as Mali violence continues, Le Drian

media Jean-Yves Le Drian with French troops in Mali Reuters/Francois Rihouay

French troops continue to clash with armed Islamists in Mali with two French soldiers wounded this week, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RFI Friday. The French troop presence will be reduced from 3,500 to 1,000 by the end of the year, he added.

"There are still some incidents (in Mali] since this week there were two wounded among the French special forces," Le Drian said, without giving details of the clashes in which the injuries took place.

Dossier: War in Mali

But, he insisted, that the country is largely pacified, while adding that "we have to be extremely vigilant about sporadic elements".

French troops have found caches of "tons" of arms, which show "considerable organisation aiming to endanger security in France and in Europe, according to Le Drian.

A horde of about 30 weapons, including machine-guns, 5,000 bullets and pick-up trucks was found in the Bourem region, the defence ministry announced on Thursday.

The 3,500-3,600 French troops in Mali at the moment will be reduced to about 2,000 as planned by the end of summer, Le Drian said, and 1,000, devoted to anti-terrorism and coordination with the UN's planned force by the end of the year, Le Drian said.

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