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Mali’s army says it killed 50 militants and freed soldiers in a counter-attack

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Mali’s army said it had killed about 50 militants in an operation to rescue some soldiers kidnapped during deadly attacks last month on two military bases in the center of the country.

Unidentified assailants killed 38 soldiers during the Sept. 30 attacks, in which the military suffered one of its biggest casualties this year, while struggling to repel mounting attacks by armed groups linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

“Around 50 enemies were neutralized (killed), some 30 wounded and equipment destroyed,” said the army statement, citing the results of the counter-attack.

The army said it had freed 36 of some 60 soldiers missing after the September 11 attacks.

Relatives of the soldiers have protested against the high number of deaths in the insurgent attacks and the lack of information about the victims and missing persons.

The conflict has been going on in West Africa since 2012, when Islamists took advantage of an ethnic Tuareg uprising in the north of the country to their advantage. Since then, violence has spread to the center of the country from where jihadi fighters have launched attacks in the Sahel.

In a sign of growing insecurity, the pro-government Tuareg militia said six of its members were killed in an overnight attack by unidentified gunmen in the northern Kidal region of Kidal.

The situation has raised fears that the regional force G5, which includes troops from Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso, with funding problems, is unable to stop the spread of unrest from troubled remote areas in West Africa to coastal countries, including Ivory Coast and Ghana.

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