Mounting death toll in attack on Mali army base

Authorities said a movement within the Peul ethnic group claimed responsibility

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Gunmen killed at least 17 soldiers and wounded 35 in an attack early Tuesday on an army camp in central Mali, authorities said, and a movement within the Peul ethnic group claimed responsibility.

An official with the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali said the attackers arrived in Nampala on dozens of pickup trucks and motorcycles and took control of the city before leaving.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about issues regarding Mali’s army. A Malian soldier confirmed the deaths but called the toll provisional because not all soldiers had been accounted for.

Hours later, a group called the National Alliance for the Protection of the Peul Identity and the Restoration of Justice told The Associated Press it had carried out the attack.

This was the first time the group, formed in recent months, had attacked a Malian army position.

“We attacked Nampala this morning to respond to the deadly attacks by the Malian army against our Peul population,” said Oumar Aldjana, the group’s secretary-general.

He said eight Malian soldiers were killed in the attack Tuesday and several trucks and stocks of ammunition were seized. He said three of his group were wounded.

Aldjana said his group is not an extremist one. “We used the slogan ‘Allahu Akbar’ during the attack, but that has nothing to do with jihadism,” he said.

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