The French military cemetery at Douaumont, with Muslim war graves in the foreground (Photo: Centenary News)

President of Mali honours the fallen at Verdun

Posted on on 25 October 2015
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President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta has visited Douaumont to remember soldiers from Mali who were killed fighting for France at the Battle of Verdun in 1916.

Mr Keïta paid tribute at their graves in the French military cemetery and took part in a ceremony at the Ossuary, the memorial to 130,000 unidentified soldiers who fell at Verdun.

This was also a personal act of remembrance for the Malian leader, whose own great-grandfather died in the longest battle of the First World War.

President Keïta's visit to Douaumont on October 22nd 2015 took place in the run-up to next year's centenary commemorations.

Soldiers from France's African colonies were among hundreds of thousands of troops sent to defend Verdun against a German offensive aimed at breaking the French armies on the Western Front. 

The Battle of Verdun opened on February 21st 1916 and lasted until December, costing around 300,000 lives.

By the end, France had won back ground lost to the Germans. . Troops of the colonial army retook Fort Douaumont, the largest of those protecting Verdun, in October 1916.

President Keïta included Verdun as part of a state to visit to France last week. He was accompanied by Jean-Marc Todeschini, the French Secretary of State for Veterans and Remembrance.

Source: French & Malian Governments; Wikipedia

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News