On 1 July, a bomb-laden car on Sunday rammed into two VBCI infantry fighting vehicles convoy carrying soldiers belonging to the French counter-terror force Barkhane in the northern Malian city of Gao. An attack on a military patrol in northern Mali on Sunday killed four civilians and wounded 31 others, including four French soldiers, Mali’s government and the French army said.
The ambush, which involved a car bomb explosion followed by gunfire, took place two days after Islamist militants killed at least six people during a raid on a military headquarters in central Mali, a country where French troops are helping combat jihadists across its vast desert reaches. The deteriorating security situation a month ahead of a presidential election points to the difficulty international partners face restoring peace in Mali, which has become a launchpad for attacks by groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State across West Africa.
The attack came as over 40 African heads of state are meeting for an African Union summit in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott with security high on the agenda. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack which comes as over 40 African heads of state are meeting for an African Union summit in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott with security high on the agenda. But violence by Islamist militants has spread across the sparsely populated Sahel in recent years, slowly taking back control lost when French forces knocked back an uprising by Tuareg rebels and Islamists in 2013. France has deployed around 4,500 French troops in West Africa’s Sahel region as part of Operation Barkhane aimed at tackling Islamist militants in the region.
As a result of the terrorist attack, two French modern VBCI infantry fighting vehicles were destroyed. This is the first known loss of infantry fighting vehicle of this type. The VBCI (Vehicule Blinde de Combat d’Infanterie) is one of the modern wheeled infantry fighting vehicles in the world. The VBCI Armoured vehicle for infantry combat is a French Infantry fighting vehicle designed to replace the AMX-10P. They entered active service with the French Army in 2008, with 630 vehicles ordered up to 2010. The8x8 wheel combination is built on an aluminium hull which carries a modular THD steel and titanium armour, which can be replaced in the field. The VBCI is also designed to be transportable by the Airbus A400M, with an empty mass less than 18 tonnes (full load mass up to 28 tonnes).