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Mali separatists claim deadly attack against army

Tuareg-dominated separatist groups said on Saturday that they had inflicted heavy losses on the Malian military in an attack in the centre of the troubled West African country.

The rebels initially said they had counted 98 dead soldiers, but later revised the figure to 81.

The claim came in statements from the Permanent Strategic Framework which is dominated by the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), an alliance of predominantly Tuareg groups — seeking autonomy or independence from the Malian state.

The rebels also said they had wounded dozens of soldiers, taken five prisoner, while losing seven of their own fighters.

The claims made by rebels, and all sides involved in the fighting, are difficult to verify because of the remoteness of the affected areas.

Access to independent sources is complicated by the conflict.

The Malian army had only acknowledged an assault on one of its camps in Dioura in the Mopti region on Thursday, without giving further details.

Despite the official information blackout, images and claims linked to the incident quickly spread online.

If confirmed it would mark the CMA’s most southerly operation since it resumed attacks against the Malian army in the north of the country at the end of August.

The north of Mali has seen a resumption of hostilities by the CMA and an intensification of jihadist attacks against the Malian army.

Operations have targeted several army positions.

The upsurge coincides with the ongoing withdrawal of the UN stabilisation force MINUSMA, which has been pushed out by the ruling junta

Mali’s junta, which seized power in 2020, faces a multitude of security challenges throughout the poor and landlocked country.

The military rulers also pushed a French anti-jihadist force to leave last year.

Politically and militarily, it has turned to Russia. Many observers claim that it has enlisted the services of the Wagner mercenary group, despite its constant denials.

The junta has made the restoration of sovereignty over the entire country one of its mantras and claims to be reversing the security trend.

However, various experts are reporting a deterioration in the situation in a country that has been plunged into turmoil since 2012.

AFP

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