Malian High Court convoy ambushed


Five Malian soldiers and a civilian were killed in central Mali during an ambush on a convoy of the president of the High Court of Justice, the defence ministry said in a statement.

It was not clear who was responsible for the attack, but the high level target and army deaths point to the deteriorating security situation in Mali due to the growing reach of jihadist groups roaming country’s vast desert expanses.

The convoy of Abdrahamane Niang was traveling between Dia and Diafarabé in the Mopti region, north-east of Bamako, when it was attacked.
“Mr. Niang and his wife were recovered by the army. However, we report six deaths: five soldiers of the Malian army and the driver of the Honorable Niang,” the statement said, adding others were wounded.

No other details were given.

The rise of jihadist groups — some linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State — continues to destabilise Mali, four years after French troops beat back an Islamist insurgency that began in 2012.

Around 4,000 French soldiers remain as part of Operation Barkhane, where they work alongside around 10,000 UN peacekeepers. Attacks on peacekeepers, aid workers and the Malian military are common.

Four US Special Forces troops were killed last month in neighbouring Niger by fighters believed to belong to a local Islamic State affiliate operating out of Mali.

The G5 Sahel, an anti-terrorism task force of soldiers from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania, plans to launch its first joint operations this month to target Islamists in the Sahel.