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Five Soldiers Dead, Eleven Others Missing After Attack in Northern Mali

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An attack on two military camps in northern Mali claimed by armed rebel groups killed five soldiers, while 11 others are missing, the army said late Monday.

The army said on social media that it had also lost a plane during the fighting in the town of Lere, in the Timbuktu region of northern Mali.

Around 30 assailants were “neutralised” in the attack on Sunday, which the army said was carried out by “terrorists”.

The Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), an alliance of armed groups dominated by Tuaregs who took up arms in 2012 seeking autonomy or independence, claimed responsibility for the attack on Sunday.

It also said it had taken control of two military camps in Lere and shot down an army plane.

It was the latest attack against army positions in northern Mali, which in recent weeks has seen a resurgence of activity by armed groups and separatists. Earlier this month, CAM seized a military camp in Bourem, situated between the ancient cities of Gao and Timbuktu.

The 2012 rebel insurrection paved the way for armed groups linked to al-Qaeda to conquer most of the north, triggering a military intervention by France and plunging the Sahel into a war that has killed thousands.

The renewed military activity by the Tuareg-dominated separatists coincides with the ongoing withdrawal of the UN stabilisation mission MINUSMA, which is being pushed out by the military government after 10 years of deployment.

The peacekeepers have been handing over their camps to Malian authorities, but the separatists believe they should be returned to their control.

Mali’s government – which seized power after double coups in 2020 and 2021 – pushed out France’s counterinsurgency force in 2022 and the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA this year. MINUSMA transferred its Lere camp to the Malian army several years ago, long before being forced to leave the country.

Bamako is widely believed to be working with the Russian paramilitary company Wagner to resolve its insecurity issues, despite denying that.

In August, United Nations experts said in a report that the armed group ISIL (ISIS) has almost doubled its territory in Mali in less than a year.

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