French/Malian forces kill militants

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Allied French and Malian forces killed 20 militants in an operation in northern Mali where Islamic State operates, a spokesman for the West African nation’s military said.

The operation in Akabar, a remote part of a game reserve near Niger and not far from Menaka, was continuing, army spokesman Colonel Diarran Kone said.

“I can tell you 20 terrorists have been neutralised,” he said.

Mali has become increasingly engulfed in violence since a Tuareg uprising in 2012 was hijacked by Islamist militants, prompting France to intervene to push them back the following year.

Several jihadist factions and allied criminal gangs regrouped and set up operations, from where they launch attacks across the Sahel.

They now have a significant presence in neighbour Burkina Faso and in remote parts of Niger.

Despite the deployment of 4,500 French troops to contain violence in the Sahel, it has worsened and the Islamists have triggered an ethnic conflict.

Attackers believed to be Fulani raided the Dogon village of Sobane Da last Sunday and Monday, killing 35 people, according to government, although a local authority maintains the real figure is 95 deaths. Another massacre by Dogon hunters in March left 150 dead.