A French soldier has died after a rocket attack on the French army base in Gao, Mali.
The French Armed Forces Ministry released a statement Sunday morning saying the attack occurred on the Gao, Mali, Operation Barkhane military base on Saturday.
The statement claimed the attack was carried out by “terrorists.”
Operation Barkhane, France’s counterinsugency military operation in the Sahel, has operated in Mali since 2014. It replaced Operation Serval, the French army’s operation to regain control of northern Mali, which had been taken over by Islamists in 2012.
This year, after what French President Emmanuel Macron called a drawdown of the French military presence in Mali, Barkhane forces were withdrawn from northern Mali’s Tessalit, Kidal and Timbuktu military bases. The Gao base continues to serve as the center of Operation Barkhane.
Popular opposition to the French military presence in Mali has increased dramatically in recent years. France has backed recent sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States that were imposed following a 2026 presidential election plan proposed by Mali’s current military government.
Thousands of Malians took to the streets in cities across the country this month to denounce the sanctions, with most also denouncing France’s presence in Mali.