World Bulletin / News Desk
Intense fighting broke out between the Macina Liberation Front, an affiliate of Ansar Dine -- a extremist group linked to Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb Islamic (AQIM) -- and the Malian army Monday after extremists ambushed a military convoy in the Mopti region.
Ansar Dine later claimed in a statement that one of its members and several Malian soldiers were killed and many others injured.
However, a Malian security source would only confirm to Anadolu Agency that five soldiers were still missing, without specifying whether they had been captured by the rebel group.
Ousmane Cisse, a local official, said that a lieutenant was among the five soldiers reported missing.
Mali’s government was unavailable for comment.
A UN peacekeeper was killed in a similar attack in Mali on Sunday, again claimed by Ansar Dine.
The UN condemned the killing in a statement saying “that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law”.
Last week, Ansar Dine released images of five Malian soldiers captured during an earlier attack against a military base in Nampala, Central Mali that killed at least 17 troops and injured 35 others, according to the Malian army.
Ansar Dine was formed in 2012 with a headquarters in northern Mali but operates throughout the Sahel region. It is reportedly led by Iyad Ag Ghali, a Tuareg commander. Since its creation, the group has claimed several attacks on Malian and UN forces.
Several militant groups are known to still operate in northern Mali despite the presence of UN and French forces since 2013.
The Malian government and some Tuareg rebel groups signed a peace agreement in June 2015.