French soldier dies in helicopter crash in Africa

AP News
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Posted: Nov 30, 2014 8:02 AM

PARIS (AP) — A French special-forces soldier has died in a helicopter crash during a nighttime training exercise in Burkina Faso.

France's Defense Ministry said Sunday that Warrant Officer Samir Bajja, who had previously served in Ivory Coast, Chad, Afghanistan and Mali, died a day earlier when the Caracal helicopter went down. The ministry did not specify where in the West African country the helicopter crashed.

Bajja, 38, was the second French soldier to die in Africa's Sahel since France launched a counterterrorism operation in five countries spanning the arid region in August. Two other service members were injured, but their lives were not in danger.

Operation Barkhane is an outgrowth of a French-led operation last year to oust al-Qaida-linked militants from an area in northern Mali that they had controlled.