Two French soldiers were killed Saturday when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in northeastern Mali, just days after three others died in similar fashion. The Office of French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Saturday that he had learned with great sadness of the deaths. One of the soldiers was the first female soldier sent to the region since the French operation began. According to the French army, the latest deaths bring 250 the number of French soldiers killed in Mali, since France first intervened militarily in January 2013. The goal of the intervention was to help drive back Islamic jihadists who had overrun parts of the country. Macron has since affirmed France’s determination to continue its role in what a statement calls the battle against terrorism.


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday that American soldiers have suffered no deaths in Afghanistan in almost a year, he cited the Trump administration's initiative to promote peace in the conflicts torn nation. Washington in February concluded an agreement with the Taliban insurgency to close the 19-year-old Afghan war. It's the longest war in American history. The historic understanding started a phased withdrawal of American troops from the South Asian nation. The deal also opened first ever direct peace talks between the Taliban and the US-backed Afghan government in September to negotiate a political power sharing understanding to permanently end the war. US officials, however, have acknowledged a recent spike in fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents that threatens the ongoing peace process. They've urged both Afghan adversaries to reduce hostilities and move quickly toward negotiated settlement.


Gunmen killed a significant number of civilians Saturday in Niger authorities said in the latest attack, in the landlocked (nations) nations troubled Tillaberi region. Local officials said many civilians were killed in the attack on a village near the border with Mali. The attack came on the same day election officials announced results for the first round of Niger's presidential vote. The results put ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoumin in the lead. A runoff election is set for next month. Niger’s is also threatened by jihadis from Nigeria, home of a decade old insurgency launched by Boko Haram.


And the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says two car bombings in separate parts of Turkish controlled areas of northern Syria killed six people on Saturday, including children. In the first car bomb near a vegetable market killed five people, including two children in a border town. Via remote, I'm Marissa Melton from Washington. This is VOA news.