The attack took place in the town of Sona, in the Koutiala area, near Mali's border with Burkina Faso.

Mali is struggling with an insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.
Mali is struggling with an insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes. (AFP)

Five police officers were killed by "unidentified assailants" in southern Mali, the national police said, while the Malian army claimed to be repelling a separate attack by militants in the northeast.

A team from the Sona Frontier Police Station "struck an explosive device followed by heavy fire from as yet unidentified assailants", the Directorate General of the National Police said in a statement.

"Five police officers were killed, one wounded and three missing", it added.

The attack took place in the town of Sona, in the Koutiala area, near Mali's border with Burkina Faso.

A local elected official and a member of the national police, both speaking to AFP news agency on condition of anonymity, described the assailants as "terrorists".

"A task force of the Defence and Security Forces, dispatched to the scene, is currently combing the area and actively searching for the missing", the police said in the statement.

READ MORE: Mali agrees to integrate 26,000 ex-rebels into army

Repelling separate attack

Separately, the Malian army claimed on social media on Sunday that it was in the process of repelling an attack in the Gao region by fighters from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).

"The (army) in the Tessit area, district of Ansongo, are repelling an ISGS attack, launched some 40 minutes ago", it posted around 4:00 pm (GMT and local), adding that it would continue to provide updates.

Mali is struggling with an insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

It is also in the grip of political upheaval after colonels angry at the government's handling of the insurgency seized power in August 2020.

READ MORE: Mali urges Macron abandon 'neocolonial and patronising' attitude

Source: AFP