April 21, 2019 / 7:56 PM / a month ago

Attack on Mali army base kills 11 soldiers

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked a Malian army base in a dawn raid on Sunday, killing 11 soldiers and burning the camp in west-central Mali, the army and a local lawmaker said.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Central Mali has in the past few years been overrun by jihadists with links to al Qaeda.

The unidentified armed assailants attacked the base in Guire district at 0500 local time (0500 GMT) after approaching in a convoy of 11 vehicles, local lawmaker Niame Keita said.

“They burnt the camp and took equipment,” he said.

In a statement, the defence ministry confirmed the attack and said 11 soldiers were killed and more were wounded. Keita had earlier said 12 were reported killed.

In March, an al Qaeda affiliate said it was behind a similar overnight attack on an army base in the central region of Mopti in which 16 soldiers were killed.

Escalating violence led to the resignation last week of the entire Malian government. The authorities have come under fire for failing to beat back militants and disarm militias, after a massacre of 157 villagers by an ethnic vigilante group shocked the nation in March.

Both Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso have been hit by the spike in hostilities fuelled by Islamist militants seeking to extend their influence over the Sahel, an arid region between Africa’s northern Sahara desert and its southern savannas.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo and Souleymane Ag AnaraWriting by Alessandra Prentice, Editing by Louise Heavens, William Maclean

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