Mali attack linked to Al Qaeda group


An al Qaeda-linked Islamist group in Mali claimed responsibility for an attack on French troops in Gao, the US SITE monitoring group said.

Four civilians were killed and four French soldiers wounded in Sunday’s raid.

The Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen group said the attack was a message to French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of his visit to Mauritania on Monday, SITE said, citing a journalist who receives direct news of claims.

Macron said on arrival in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott several French soldiers wounded in Gao were airlifted to France.

He would meet on the sidelines of an African Union summit with the presidents of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania, members of the G5 Sahel regional force created to combat Islamist militancy.
“We’ll meet to take concrete decisions on redeployment of our forces,” Macron said.

Western powers, including France and the United States, provided funding to the G5 to tackle the jihadists. The force has been slow to get off the ground, hobbled by delays in disbursing the money and co-ordinating among the five countries.

Violence by Islamist militants proliferated in the sparsely-populated Sahel in recent years, with groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State using central and northern Mali as a launchpad for attacks across the region.

Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen claimed responsibility for three deadly attacks in Mali since Friday as the country prepares for a presidential election on July 29.

Including the Sunday attack on French forces, SITE said the group claimed responsibly for the attack on the G5 task force headquarters in Sevare on Friday and an attack on Malian troops on Saturday that killed five.