Six soldiers were killed and 20 injured in simultaneous attacks targeting three army bases in central Mali Sunday, the army said.
Targets in Sevare, Niono and Bapho were all hit by “armed terrorist groups (who) used suicide vehicles packed with explosives”, the Malian army said in a statement.
A group linked to the firebrand preacher Amadou Koufa claimed the attacks, according to audio sent to AFP Sunday from a source close to the suspected attackers.
The group, Katiba of Macina, belongs to the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), an Al-Qaeda-linked alliance and the biggest jihadist network in the Sahel.
“On Sunday morning, the mujahideen of the Katiba of Macina struck three camps of the (Malian armed forces),” a member of the group told AFP in an audio message.
The source said Bapho and Niono were hit, in line with information from Mali’s army.
It also said Segou was attacked, which was not among the targets mentioned by the Malian army.
“We hit these camps at the same time within five minutes of each other. (Apart from the) deaths, we caused material damage to them,” the audio recording said.
Military sources earlier told AFP the attacks occurred at 0500 GMT in Sevare, Niono and Bapho, all in the centre of the country.
In Sevare, “there was a double terrorist attack with shots fired and machinery exploded,” one of the sources said.
“The army retaliated. We are not able to provide a toll at the moment,” the source added.
“We have asked MINUSMA (the UN Mission in Mali), as part of our collaboration, to send a rapid intervention force near the Sevare camp to help secure it,” the source continued.
A separate military source within MINUSMA confirmed the information.
One of the poorest countries in the world, Mali is struggling with a decade-long jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes.
Public anger at elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s failure to roll back the insurgency provided the spark for a military takeover in August 2020.