Paris - Around 15 Islamic militants were killed overnight in
heavy fighting with French and Chadian forces in northeastern Mali, French
Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday.
The defence ministry has said dozens of Islamists have died
in the area over the past few days. A third French soldier died in the conflict
"There were operations carried out by our troops
overnight against a group of terrorists in the region, in the Ametettai
valley," Le Drian told BFMTV, adding that there were "around 15
French-led forces launched military operations in Mali in
mid-January seeking to drive out radical Islamists who had controlled the vast
desert north of the country for nearly a year.
The offensive quickly routed the Islamist fighters from main
cities and fighting has since been concentrated in the rugged mountain terrain
in the northeast.