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On 25 November 2019, on the Malian side of the Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger tri-border area, a French Operation Barkhane Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopter collided with a Eurocopter AS532 Cougar transport helicopter, killing all thirteen crew members on board of both aircraft.

Six officers and a master corporal were among the victims in the deadliest incident for the French contingent since the start of its operations in January 2013. Thirty-eight French soldiers in total were killed in Mali during operations Serval (2013-2014) and Barkhane (2014-present). This was also the largest loss of life in one incident for the French armed forces stationed anywhere since 1983. At the time of the incident, the helicopters were pursuing armed militants on motorcycles and improvised fighting vehicles (non-standard tactical vehicles/technicals), as part of a security forces’ operation in the Liptako region. The tri-border area lies on the most important illegitimate trafficking route in the Sahel and is densely occupied by militant and criminal elements.

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