French Defense Minister Florence Parly announced earlier this week that French forces had conducted airstrikes in central Mali that killed more than 50 jihadists of the Ansarul Islam group that is aligned to al-Qaeda. The announcement came after his meeting with members of Mali’s transitional government

The operation took place on October 30 in the lawless “three borders” area of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. It is an area where Malian troops are struggling to combat a growing Islamic insurgency.

Parly added that 30 motorcycles, a preferred vehicle for the jihadis in the region, were destroyed and a number of arms confiscated. She said that the action marked a “significant blow” to the Ansarul group and that the operation “shows once again that terrorist groups cannot act with impunity.”

The defense minister had earlier met with Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou and her Nigerien counterpart Issoufou Katambe before heading to Bamako, said the operation was launched after a drone detected a “very large” motorcycle caravan in the “three borders” area.

The jihadists saw the drone and quickly scurried into a treeline to conceal themselves from the surveillance, but it was too late. The drone joined two scrambled French Mirage jets and they launched missiles that pounded the area and resulted in the “neutralization” of the insurgents, Parly said.

French military spokesman Colonel Frederic Barbry said to media members during a conference call, that the group was “about to attack [an army] position in the region. He added that four terrorists were captured.

Barbry also said that another month-long operation, targeting the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, was ongoing with 3,000 soldiers. They expect to announce the results of that operation shortly, he said.

These operations also coincided with the first operations conducted by the French-led Special Operations Takuba Task Force that consisted of French and Estonian special operations troops working with Malian SOF troops.