Al Qaeda claims killing of 28 soldiers

Al Qaeda’s North Africa wing said today it had killed 28 soldiers in a remote desert region in northern Mali and taken a further three captive, two days after the army said it had clashed with suspected militants.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) attacked a military convoy earlier this month, the group said in a statement posted on a website used by al Qaeda-linked organisations, Reuter`s reports.
Malian military sources said earlier this week that the army and suspected al Qaeda militants had fought two gun battles over the weekend near Tessalit that killed dozens and left about 20 soldiers missing.
AQIM said in its statement that one Mauritanian militant was killed in the attack.
The group also threatened to carry out more such raids, warning President Amadou Toumani Toure not to be led by “the Crusaders and the collaborator, apostate Algerian regime” to fight against them.
The attack marks the latest outbreak of violence in the vast desert region which has long hosted rebels and smugglers and now increasingly is being used by Islamist militants.
The fighting is the third such incident since Mali’s security forces stepped up operations against AQIM, which last month killed a British hostage.