BAMAKO: A mine explosion in Mali has killed three French soldiers, in an unusually deadly incident for French anti-terrorist forces in the region.

The French Defence Ministry says that soldiers had been approaching Tessalit in northern Mali in a convoy of about 60 vehicles when the lead armored vehicle was hit Tuesday.

The Defence Ministry initially reported one death, and President Francois Hollande's office said Wednesday that two others had died from wounds.

France has a few thousand forces in its Barkhane mission in multiple countries on the southern edge of the Sahara desert. The mission, created in 2014, stemmed from a French military intervention against Islamic extremists in Mali.

The European Union military mission headquarters in Mali's capital was attacked last month.