Eleven Malian soldiers killed in an ambush

Eleven soldiers were killed in an ambush by militants in an army camp in northern Timbuktu region

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Malian government has released a statement claiming that eleven soldiers were killed on Monday in an ambush by militants in an army camp in northern Timbuktu region.

"The toll is 11 guards killed, one wounded," the statement said describing the attack as  "cowardly and barbaric terrorist act perpetrated by lawless individuals".

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed responsibility for the attack in Gourma-Rharous, according to Mauritanian news agency Al-Akhbar.

According to the agency, AQIM spokesman Abu Darda Al-Chinguitty claimed responsibility for the attack by telephone.

"Our...fighters attacked at dawn the Malian army base in this village and we succeeded in killing nine soldiers," he said.

They also "destroyed four vehicles and took significant loot," he added.

As of Monday evening the other AQIM channels stil had not mentioned the attack.

Another military source confirmed the ambush early Monday, saying it had targeted a unit of the National Guard based in Gourma-Rharous and left around 10 soldiers dead.

The attackers are believed to be linked to militant group Ansar Dine, the source said.

During Monday mornings attack the locals were "holed up inside," a local resident told AFP.

"We began leaving our homes at 7:00 am (0700 GMT). We were afraid," he said.

The attack on the camp comes two days after two other Malian soldiers were killed and four others wounded in an ambush in the centre of Mali.

Northern part of the country has been a hotpoint for militant attacks, but the attacks began to spread towards the centre of the country since the beginning of this year.  

In June some attacks targeted the southern parts as well, near Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso border.

The northern part of the West African country came under the control of Al Qaeda affiliated Ansar Dine and two other militant groups, AQIM and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, in April of 2012.

Militant offensives in Mali prompted Mali's former colonial master France to intervene in January 2013, pounding their positions in the north.

While their organisational structure has been smashed, small pockets of armed militants managed to remain active and continue to carry out occasional deadly attacks in the desert.

At the beginning of July, six UN peacekeepers from Burkina Faso were killed in an attack claimed by AQIM.

TRTWorld and agencies