Re­in­force­ments rushed to north-east Mali af­ter mil­i­tants kill 49 sol­diers

The National - News - - NEWS | WORLD - Agence France-Presse

A “ter­ror­ist at­tack” on a mil­i­tary post in strife-torn north-eastern Mali has left 49 sol­diers dead, the army said yes­ter­day, low­er­ing an ear­lier death toll.

The as­sault on Fri­day at In­de­li­mane, in the Me­naka re­gion close to the border with Niger, was one of the dead­li­est strikes against Mali’s mil­i­tary in a re­gion wracked by ex­trem­ist vi­o­lence.

The Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) “recorded 49 dead, three wounded and ma­te­rial dam­age, and some 20 sur­vivors have been re­cov­ered”, it said on its Face­book page yes­ter­day. “The sit­u­a­tion is un­der FAMa con­trol.”

The gov­ern­ment had said on Fri­day that 53 peo­ple died in a “ter­ror­ist at­tack”.

No group im­me­di­ately claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The army and gov­ern­ment said re­in­force­ments were sent to the area. An army of­fi­cer said troops ar­rived at the out­post at about 5pm on Fri­day and “took back con­trol of our po­si­tions”.

“The ter­ror­ists car­ried out a sur­prise at­tack at lunchtime. Army ve­hi­cles were de­stroyed, oth­ers taken away,” he said.

The at­tack comes a month af­ter two ex­trem­ist as­saults killed 40 sol­diers near the Burk­ina Faso border. How­ever sources said the death toll had been un­der­es­ti­mated.

Mali’s army has been strug­gling in the face of an ex­trem­ist re­volt that has spread from the arid north to its cen­tre, an eth­ni­cally mixed and volatile re­gion.

The re­cent at­tacks are also a hu­mil­i­a­tion for the so-called G5 Sa­hel force – an ini­tia­tive un­der which five coun­tries cre­ated a joint 5,000-man anti-ter­ror­ist force – and for France, which is com­mit­ted to shoring up the re­gion.

North­ern Mali came un­der the con­trol of Al Qaeda-linked

The vi­o­lence has also spilled over into Burk­ina Faso and Niger where ex­trem­ist groups have killed hun­dreds

mil­i­tants af­ter Mali’s army failed to quash a rebellion there in 2012.

A French-led mil­i­tary cam­paign was launched against the ex­trem­ists, push­ing them back a year later. But they have re­grouped and widened their hit-and-run raids to cen­tral and south­ern Mali.

The vi­o­lence has also spilled over into Burk­ina Faso and Niger where ex­trem­ists have ex­ploited in­ter-com­mu­nal strife, leav­ing hun­dreds dead.

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