The victim's bodies were brought back from Mopti region to the airport in Sevare, near the town of Mopti, by a helicopter from the UN's MINUSMA peacekeeping force, while the injured were taken to hospital, local officials said.

A Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) soldier is pictured during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29, 2019. Picture taken July 29, 2019.
A Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) soldier is pictured during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29, 2019. Picture taken July 29, 2019. (Reuters)

At least 10 troops have been killed in Mali's troubled central region when their camp came under attack from militants.

Their position at Boni, located between Douentza and Hombori in the Mopti region, was attacked by "heavily armed individuals in armoured vehicles," a source said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Several soldiers were injured, the source said, an account confirmed by another security official and a local government official.

The 10 bodies had been brought back to the airport in Sevare, near the town of Mopti, by a helicopter from the UN's MINUSMA peacekeeping force, while the injured were taken to hospital, local officials said.

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The security source said the camp had been seriously damaged and the assailants had made off with lots of equipment.

Tadayt, a propaganda outlet close to Al Qaeda, claimed that the attack had been carried out by the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), seen as the most dangerous of the many militant groups active in the Sahel region.

The attack is the latest in a brutal conflict that has been raging in Mali since 2012, when militants overtook a rebellion by mostly ethnic Tuareg separatists in the north.

The conflict, which has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians, then spread to central Mali, an ethnic powderkeg, and neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Militants attacks in central Mali typically involve roadside bombs or hit-and-run raids on motorbikes or pickups, and the use of armoured vehicles, if confirmed, is extremely rare.

Heni Nsaibia, a researcher with an NGO project called the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED), said militants had seized armoured vehicles from the armed forces in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

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The Malian army said on social media that it had received air support from France's anti-militant Barkhane mission in the Sahel.

A Malian military official said the assailants had suffered "major casualties" but did not give details.

Central Mali has seen a string of deadly attacks since the start of the year, including a roadside bomb that killed four UN peacekeepers from Ivory Coast.

French and Malian troops have also carried out a joint mission in the area, called Operation Eclipse. According to a Malian army statement on January 26, "100 terrorists were neutralised" in the operation. 

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Source: AFP