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French military base in Gao, northern Mali
A French legionnaire has been killed in a suicide attack in northern Mali, the ninth soldier to have died since the French intervention there in 2013.
The defence ministry said in a statement that Serbian-born Dejvid Nikolic, 45, who held French nationality, "fell victim to a suicide attack" about 100 kilometres from the northern town of Gao in northern Mali on Monday.
France launched operation “Serval” in January last year to help Malian soldiers halt Al-Qaeda-linked militants and Tuareg rebels who were advancing from the north towards Bamako, the capital.
France currently has 1,700 soldiers in Mali, which is a former French colony and had initially planned to end Serval in May and redeploy troops to the Sahel region.
However the withdrawal of troops was postponed after fresh clashes between rebels and the army in the flashpoint northern town of Kidal.