The bus ignored visual warnings and kept going at high speed toward the convoy of troops assigned to Operation Barkhane, the French military said on Tuesday. The troops then fired a second warning volley into the ground, but the bullets ricocheted into the bus, injuring three people inside – one of them fatally.

The French army offered “sincere condolences” to the family of the deceased.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions in Mali, following a military coup that forced the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his cabinet last month. Mali has been kicked out of the African Union in reprisal, and several factions are still struggling for control of the government. Meanwhile, the north of the country is controlled by the Touraeg militants, who have been fighting for independence since 2012. 

France’s Operation Barkhane force consists of some 5,000 troops, deployed against Islamist militants in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger since 2014. The five Sahel countries used to be French colonies, before gaining independence in the 20th century. 

A soldier from the French 1st Parachute Hussar Regiment was killed in Mali on July 23, when an improvised explosive device detonated next to his armored vehicle.

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