PARIS, May 8 (Xinhua) -- A French soldier in an operation to help the Malian government against Islamist rebels was killed in an explosion Thursday in northern Mali, according to the presidency office, the Elysee.
President Francois Hollande expressed in a statement "his deep sadness," over the death of the national serviceman from the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment.
"He sends his condolences to his family and loved ones, and assures them of the nation's solidarity in these painful circumstances," the communique said.
In an interview with the news channel BFMTV, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the soldier died after being caught in a blast by an improvised explosive device.
"He died for the freedom of Mali, the security of Mali, but also for liberty, the security of Europe and France," the minsiter said.
The death brings to eight the number of French servicemen killed in the conflict-torn country since Paris started a military operation in January 2013 to help authorities in its former colony oust Islamist rebels and restore security.