Nigeria’s president extended condolences on Wednesday over the death of 13 French personnel in Mali in a helicopter accident earlier this week, according to local reports.
“I am deeply saddened by the news of this helicopter accident that claimed the lives of 13 French soldiers during an operation against the terrorists in the country,” Muhammadu Buhari was quoted by the Daily Post newspaper as saying in a written statement.
Adding that France is a major international partner in the war against terrorism, he said: “We recognize France’s extensive experience in the war on terror and their assistance to African countries, including Nigeria, to tackle terrorism, which poses the greatest security threat to the affected countries.”
He called on Paris not to allow the incident to affect its presence in Africa and its campaigns against terrorists in the region.
Thirteen French soldiers were killed on Monday when two helicopters collided in northern Mali.
The soldiers were part of France’s “anti-terror mission” in West Africa.
Since August 2014, France’s anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane has involved around 4,500 troops deployed in five West African countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad.
It reportedly aids in the fight against militant groups in the Sahel region, especially Mali.