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Four soldiers killed as France winds up operations

Mali soldiers killed / Credit: AFP

Four soldiers and two civilians have been killed in a militant attack in Mali’s northern Gao region where French Barkhane forces are winding up operations, the Malian army (Fama) has said.

Five militants were also killed as Fama repelled the “complex and coordinated attack” on Tessit town on Sunday, the army said in a statement posted to social media.

The raid took place as Barkhane troops prepared to close their last helicopter hanger in Gao ahead of a final withdrawal from the Sahel nation at the end of August.

“The re-articulation outside the border of Mali continues,” the French forces said in a brief statement on Twitter on Sunday.

Mali has severed defence co-operation with key regional and international stakeholders, and is involved in a standoff with UN peacekeepers, foreshadowing further deterioration in regional security.

This has been worsened by the deployment of Russia’s Wagner mercenaries in the Sahel nation.

Their presence has triggered threats from al-Qaeda’s Sahel branch to blockade the Malian capital Bamako and escalate attacks on the country’s military rulers.

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