Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has urged the countrymen not to “bite the hands” of nations giving aid. He said this in a response to growing hostility to foreign forces helping the Sahel country battle Islamist militants.

French forces have been in Mali since a 2013 campaign to drive out Islamist fighters from the country’s north, but public anger over growing militant violence has recently turned on the presence of foreign troops. Keita’s appeal came days after a mid-air collision between two helicopters killed 13 French troops who were on a night-time operation against jihadists in Mali.