7 jihadists killed in central Mali as army scours region
Seven jihadists have been killed in clashes with troops in central Mali, where the army this week launched a major offensive against Islamist fighters, defence ministry and local sources said Thursday
The clashes, which took place late Wednesday and left another 10 militants injured, erupted in the Tiebanda forest where the Islamists were planning to set up a base some 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the Burkina Faso border, said a ministry source who asked not to be identified.
“The Tiebanda forest is dense, terrorists wanted to set up a base there to attack Mali and Burkina Faso. They had heavy arms,” said the source.
Long concentrated in Mali’s remote desert north, jihadist attacks spread early this year to central Mali, and then from June to southern areas bordering Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.
In the central town of Mopti, once a popular tourist destination, a local government official who asked not to be identified confirmed the toll of seven dead.
He said the jihadist group had been located thanks to a tip-off from two youngsters who were recruited by force by the militants but had managed to escape.
There were no immediate details on the group but many recent attacks in the area have been attributed to the Macina Liberation Front, a group led by radical Fulani preacher Amadou Koufa, who is wanted by the authorities.
The military offensive that began this week in the region is known as Operation Seno, the Fulani word for sand, and is due to last three months.
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