Suspected jihadists kill 12 soldiers in central Mali

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Suspected Islamist militants killed 12 soldiers in two attacks in central Mali, the army said on Tuesday, burning down an army base and ambushing troops sent as reinforcements.

The first attack occurred overnight on a base in Sokoura near the border with Burkina Faso, killing nine soldiers. On Tuesday morning three others were killed in an ambush at a bridge nearby as they headed to the scene of the first attack, the statement said.

Nine militants were killed, and two of their vehicles destroyed, the army said.

A witness said he saw nine bodies at the camp and helped transport 20 wounded to local medical centres.

“They (jihadists) took all the vehicles and burned those they could not take away, the camp is burned,” said the witness, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

The attacks were the deadliest since the Aug. 18 military coup that overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Regional and international powers fear the coup could further destabilise the West African nation and undermine a French-directed military campaign against insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in the wider Sahel region.