The Islamic State group has said it was responsible for the collision of two French military helicopters in Mali on Monday that killed 13 soldiers, the heaviest single loss for the French army in nearly four decades, French RFI news service reports.
A Tiger attack helicopter hit a Cougar military transport mid-air as it manoeuvred to engage the militants, who were fleeing on motorbikes and in pick-up trucks.
The incident happened in a sector where French and other forces from the region conduct operations against armed groups, including the group Islamic State in the Great Sahara (GSIM).
French Gen Francois Lecointre said the militants’ claims were “totally false”.
“The truth is that there was a collision during a very complex combat operation..the French army is telling the truth: we owe it to our soldiers and to the families of our dead colleagues, ” he told RFI.
France has 4,500 troops deployed to support the forces of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad against the jihadists.