French soldier, 29, killed ‘by accident’ in northern Mali

An investigation is underway after the death of a 29-year-old French soldier during a maintenance operation in Mali, the French Army Chief of Staff said Wednesday.

Field Marshal Adrien Quélin, a mechanic with France’s Barkhane military operation in the Sahel, was killed in Timbuktu on Tuesday while working on the engine of a truck.

Quélin, who belonged to the Roc Noir Desert Battle Group, had been seriously injured when the vehicle’s cabin fell onto him, the Army said. 

“Despite immediate care by the emergency services on site, he could not be resuscitated.” 

In a Twitter post, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Army General Thierry Burkhard, said: “All my thoughts are with the family, loved ones and brothers in arms of Marshal Adrien Quélin.” 

The Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, also paid her tribute on Twitter: “I salute his commitment and bow to his memory.

France is planning to reorganise its military presence in the Sahel, leaving its northern-most Malian bases in Kidal, Timbuktu and Tessalit.

This is part of a wider plan to draw down its 5,000-strong troops in the region to about 3,000 over the next two years.

Fifty-two French soldiers have died since Paris deployed its Barkhane anti-terrorism force in 2013 to drive back Islamist militants.

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