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4 Mali soldiers killed in suspected jihadist attack

Bamako (AFP) - Four Mali soldiers were killed and eight wounded Sunday in a suspected jihadist attack on an army camp in the far north of the country, the Malian military said.

"The provisional toll is four dead, eight injured and several vehicles taken," army colonel Boubacar Sanogoh, regional commander for the Timbuktu region, told AFP.

The outpost in Bambara Maoude, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Timbuktu city, "was the object at about 0500 GMT of a terrorist attack," the military had earlier tweeted alongside an initial toll of three dead and five wounded, plus "material damage".

Communications Minister Yaya Sangare confirmed a death toll of four and tweeted that, following "intervention by the Malian airforce, backed by (French-led force) Barkhane and (UN mission) MINUSMA, the post is under (army) control".

One local official said "the terrorists left, taking vehicles and military equipment with them... together with the bodies of two of their comrades".

Sanogoh said he could not give a toll for the jihadists.

The attack is the latest in a long series of deadly incidents in Mali's north, where French forces said Friday they had killed about 50 jihadists so far this month.

Earlier in February, 40 people, including nine soldiers, died in a spate of attacks in central Mali, with most of the deaths apparently caused by inter-ethnic violence, which also plagues the country.

France said recently it would bolster its contingent in Operation Barkhane from 4,500 to 5,100 by month's end.

Meanwhile, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has raised the prospect of opening a dialogue with some jihadists as a means of trying to find an exit from eight years of conflict.


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