(CNN) -- A French soldier was killed during a clash with Islamist fighters early Wednesday in northern Mali, the French Defense Ministry said.
Four French soldiers have been killed in Mali since the beginning of France's military intervention there in January.
Islamist extremists carved out a large haven in northern Mali last year, taking advantage of a chaotic situation after a military coup by the separatist party MNLA. The militants banned music, smoking, drinking and watching sports on television. They also destroyed historic tombs and shrines.
France has more than 2,000 soldiers on Malian soil, with 1,000 more troops supporting the operation from elsewhere.
French involvement in the conflict began on January 11, the day after militants said they had seized the city of Konna, east of Diabaly in central Mali, and were poised to advance south toward Bamako, the capital.