A French soldier was killed on Saturday in Mali after his armoured vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, the French Presidency said in a statement.

The attack was claimed by the so-called Islamic State group late on Saturday.

Corporal Ronan Pointeau of the French Army 1st Spahi Regiment in Valence, 24, died in the northeastern region of Menaka as his vehicle was “struck by an explosive device,” the Ministry of Defence said.

President Emmanuel Macron hailed the soldier’s “sacrifice” and expressed “his thoughts to his comrades engaged in operations in the Sahel”, “as well as their brothers-in-arms of the Sahelian armies, who are paying a heavy price in the fight against terrorism”.

“Caliphate soldiers have targeted a convoy of French forces vehicles (…) near Indelimane, in the region of Menaka, by detonating an explosive device,” the so-called Islamic State group said in a statement published on its Telegram channels on Saturday evening.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly said she would visit Mali shortly “in order to hold talks with Malian authorities”.

On Friday, 49 Malian soldiers were killed in the same region in a terror attack, which was also claimed by the so-called Islamic State group.

The attack was one of the deadliest strikes against the West African country’s military in recent memory.

From their stronghold in Mali, groups with al Qaeda and Islamic State links have been able to fan out across the Sahel, destabilising parts of Niger and Burkina Faso.

“In a degraded security context, the death of Corporal Ronan Pointeau shows us that the fight against terror groups in the Sahel is not over and our determination to pursue it is total,” the French Defense Ministry said in a statement.

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