Mali: Islamic State group claims responsibility for attack

In this photo made available on the Mali Army twitter feed, showing coffins being honoured at a funeral ceremony in Gao, Mali, Wednesday Nov. 20, 2019. The Mali Defense Ministry held a funeral for the 30 soldiers killed in a Monday attack on an army patrol by extremists near the border with Niger. (Mali Army via AP)

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 30 soldiers in Mali earlier this week.

A statement late Wednesday asserts that another 30 soldiers were wounded in Monday’s ambush.

The statement mentions no deaths among IS-linked fighters. Mali’s army has said 17 extremists were killed in the fighting at Tabankort in the northeastern Gao region.

Mali and Niger had been carrying out a joint operation along their border to track extremists. Nigerien troops detained about 100 suspects.

Well over 100 Malian soldiers have died in the past two months in attacks by fighters linked to IS and al-Qaida.

The U.S. says the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert is of growing concern with thousands of IS-linked fighters active in Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and elsewhere.

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