17 soldiers killed, 35 wounded in attack on Mali army base

AP News
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Posted: Jul 19, 2016 5:40 PM

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Gunmen killed 17 soldiers and wounded 35 in an attack early Tuesday on an army camp in central Mali, the government said, and two separate groups claimed responsibility.

A government statement issued late Tuesday said it was not yet clear who had attacked the city of Nampala.

The Macina Liberation Front, which is said to have ties to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, claimed responsibility for the attack on social media. The extremist group is made up primarily of members of the Peul ethnic group, and it claimed responsibility for several attacks on the army last year.

The group's attacks in central Mali have raised alarm because it represents an escalation in extremism much further south.

Another group called the National Alliance for the Protection of the Peul Identity and the Restoration of Justice told The Associated Press it had carried out the Nampala attack.

This was the first time the group, formed in recent months, had assaulted a Malian army position.

"We attacked Nampala this morning to respond to the deadly attacks by the Malian army against our Peul population," said Oumar Aldjana, the group's secretary-general. Peul groups in the region have accused the military of arresting, torturing and killing civilians.

He said several trucks and stocks of ammunition were seized and three members of his group were wounded.

Aldjana said his group is not an extremist one. "We used the slogan 'Allahu Akbar' during the attack, but that has nothing to do with jihadism," he said.