Five Malian soldiers were killed when militants armed with rocket launchers attacked a checkpoint in a central region of the conflict-torn nation, a military source and a local official said on Monday.
“At least five soldiers were killed in Mondoro on Sunday during a jihadist attack,” said a source at the Mali military base in Mopti, the region’s largest city, adding that the attackers had also “suffered losses “.
A local official said the militants launched the assault “using rocket launchers fired at parked military vehicles”.
The official said the Malian air force then bombed jihadist positions, adding that the clashes had lasted an hour.
“I do not know the number of jihadists killed but there are victims,” said the official.
On Monday, a local association expressed concern over the possible withdrawal of troops from Mondoro, where a soldier was killed and three others injured on February 14.
The Mondoro and Boulkessi camps, near the border with Burkina Faso, were the target of two attacks in September which left at least 40 people dead.
“According to the information received, the soldiers threaten to leave Mondoro … if they execute this decision, the terrorists will take control not only of Mondoro but of the whole area of Douentza,” said Oumar Ongoiba, an official of the Association for the Development of Mondoro, emphasizing the strategic importance of the area.
The September attacks on Mondoro and Boulkessi were claimed by the GSIM, the main jihadist alliance in the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Sahel region, with which Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita hopes to negotiate.