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Three French soldiers die in Mali after vehicle hit by improvised device

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FILE-- In this photo taken Sunday Feb. 10, 2013, French soldiers secure the area where a suicide bomber exploded at the entrance of Gao, northern Mali.
FILE-- In this photo taken Sunday Feb. 10, 2013, French soldiers secure the area where a suicide bomber exploded at the entrance of Gao, northern Mali.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Jerome Delay, FILE
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Three French soldiers were killed in Mali on Monday when their armoured vehicle was hit by an explosive device in the Hombori region, the French defence ministry said in a statement.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed in a statement his "great emotion" after learning of the deaths of Brigadier-Chief Tanerii Mauri and first class fighters Quentin Pauchet and Dorian Issakhanian.

They belonged to a first regiment in Thierville-sur-Meuse in eastern France.

The Elysée said in a statement that Macron saluted "the memory of these soldiers, who died for France in the accomplishment of their mission.

"He associates himself with the pain of their families, their relatives and their brothers in arms and assures them of the recognition and solidarity of the Nation."

Macron also said he was confident in French soldiers in the Sahel and saluted their "courage". He added that France would continue to pursue the fight against terrorism.

Armies minister Florence Parly said in a statement that the three soldiers were engaged in a "zone where terrorist groups attack civil populations and threaten regional stability, as well as our own security."

Parly added that her thoughts were with their fellow soldiers who continue to fight in Mali.

At least 47 French soldiers have died since 2013 in military operations in Mali. Two French soldiers were killed in September in northern Mali by a homemade bomb.