Islamist militants kill two, kidnap others in Mali army camp attack

AFP , Saturday 17 Jun 2017

Malian army soldiers
File Photo: Malian army soldiers patrol in the village of Bintagoungou (AFP)

Two soldiers were killed and others abducted Saturday after jihadists attacked a military base in northern Mali, a local official and a resident told AFP.

"Around five o'clock, the jihadists attacked the military camp at Bintagoungou," some 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Timbuktu, the official said.

"At least two soldiers were killed and many others were abducted. All the camp's military material was ransacked," he added.

A resident added that "there are no Malian soldiers to be seen -- the camp has been laid waste. The jihadists left with military hostages."
An army source confirmed the attack to AFP without giving any details.

Northern Mali continues to fall prey to jihadist attacks with four people having died in an assault on UN peacekeepers near their base in Kidal earlier this month.

The Group to Support Islam and Muslims, also known as Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimeen in Arabic, a fusion of three jihadist groups with previous Al-Qaeda links formed in March, claimed that attack.

Led by the Malian jihadist Iyad Ag Ghaly, a former leader of the Ansar Dine Islamists, the group has claimed multiple attacks on domestic and foreign forces since its formation, notably the 12,000-member MINUSMA UN force.

MINUSMA began operations in 2013, providing security to and assisting Malian troops in a region which fell to jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in March 2012.

Although a French-led military intervention the following year drove the groups out of key towns, they have since spread further south in the troubled West African nation.

The unrest has continued despite a 2015 peace deal between the government and Tuareg-led rebels offering partial autonomy to the north.

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