14 Malian soldiers killed in two armed group attacks

Fourteen Malian sol­diers were killed and 11 wounded in two separate attacks in central Mali after their vehicles struck explosive devices, the army has said.

The incidents took place on Tuesday in central regions where attackers with ties to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) regularly attack civilians, Malian soldiers, United Nations peace­keepers and other international forces.

The reinforcements in response to the latest attacks led to the killing of 31 rebels, the army said in a statement on Wednesday.

Reuters news agency could not independently confirm the report and no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Mali has been racked by vi­olence since 2012 when armed groups hijacked an uprising by Tuareg separatists in the north. The conflict has since spread to other countries in West Africa’s Sahel region despite a costly international military response.

In 2022, French troops completed a withdrawal from Mali as relations soured be­tween both countries due to two coups and the perceived ineffectiveness of the for­eign military in tackling rebel activities

There have also been grow­ing tensions between the UN mission and Mali’s military rul­ers following the alleged arrival of Wagner Group operatives from Russia to bolster govern­ment forces.

Germany, which has been in Mali since 2013, with a pres­ence of up to 1,400 soldiers as part of the MINUSMA mission in the north, has said it will withdraw its troops in May 2024. —Aljazeera

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