French forces have killed 19 Islamists during security operations in Mali's northern region of Timbuktu, a French officer confirmed on Tuesday.
"There were clashes north of Timbuktu on the road to Taoudenit. We neutralized 19 people. The operations are continuing," said the officer, who asked not to be named, to Reuters.
There were no French casualties.
France still has up to 3,000 troops in Mali after intervening in January to remove Islamist and secessionist rebels who had occupied the north of the country.
Another 6,000 soldiers and police were also deployed to Mali by the United Nations Minusma force.
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''The clash happened during an ongoing operation that began last week,'' Hubert de Quievrecourt, the spokesman for French operations in Mali, told the BBC.
He denied reports that the 19 bodies had been left in the sun and spotted by nomads.
''Those bodies would not be from our clash. We always bury our corpses where they died,'' he said.
The most recent violence comes as Malians are due to vote on Sunday in a second round of parliamentary polls meant to mark the country's first move toward recovery after it became lost in chaos during a military coup in March last year.