Mali says at least 15 soldiers killed in militant attack

BAMAKO (Reuters) – Fifteen Malian soldiers were killed in a militant attack on a military position in northern Mali on Friday, a spokesman for the army said, cautioning that the death toll was provisional.

The attack deals another blow to the West African country’s military, which is still reeling from deadly jihadist raids in late September that underscored the increasing reach and sophistication of armed groups operating in the region.

“The provisional toll is 15 killed on the side of the Malian armed forces, some wounded and equipment damage. Reinforcements have been deployed,” spokesman Diarran Kone said.

From their stronghold in Mali, groups with al Qaeda and Islamic State links have been able to fan out across the Sahel, destabilizing parts of Niger and Burkina Faso.

Thirty-eight Malian soldiers were killed on Sept. 30 in coordinated attacks on two army bases in central Mali, which has slipped from government control despite the presence of the French army and other international forces.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo, Paul Lorgerie, Souleymane Ag Anara; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Dan Grebler

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