Malian soldiers killed in jihad attacks

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Twenty-five Malian soldiers were killed and 60 are missing after suspected jihadists attacked army camps in central Mali government said in a statement.

The toll is among the highest suffered by Malian forces this year as they struggle to contain militant groups with links to al Qaeda or Islamic State operating in parts of Mali where they launch attacks across the Sahel.

Authorities earlier said military posts at Boulkessi and Mondoro were targeted, but did not indicate casualties.

“Among the ranks of the FAMA (Malian armed forces) the provisional toll is 25 killed, four wounded, around 60 missing and heavy equipment losses,” government said.

In response, the army launched a joint operation with forces from neighbouring Burkina Faso, backed up by French troops, it said.

The West African country has been in conflict since 2012 when Islamists hijacked an ethnic uprising by Tuaregs. More recently violence moved to central Mali, where fighting between farmers and herders surged this year.

Jihadist groups exploit ethnic rivalries in Mali and neighbouring countries to boost recruitment and render territories ungovernable.