Gunmen kill six Malian soldiers in coordinated attacks

BAMAKO — Gunmen in Mali killed at least six soldiers and wounded 18 others in two coordinated attacks in the center of the African nation on Sunday morning, an army spokesman said.

The attacks occurred at around 0300 (0300 GMT) in the villages of Boulkessi and Mondoro in the Mopti region, sparking a gunfight between the armed group and the army, said Colonel Souleymane Dembelé. About 30 assailants were killed, he said.

It is not yet clear who carried out the attack.

Mali’s central and northern regions have for years been home to jihadist groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State. They control large areas of the remote desert and regularly carry out raids on the army and civilians.

They have used the area as a launch pad to carry out attacks across neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso, destabilizing the whole region and sucking in thousands of international troops.

Four United Nations peacekeepers were killed and five wounded in central Mali this month after a convoy struck an explosive device and came under fire.

(Reporting By Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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