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Eight soldiers killed in clash with armed militants in Mali

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Eight Malian soldiers were killed, 14 others injured and four are missing following a clash with armed militants in the northeast of the West African nation on Friday, the defense ministry said.

The ministry said late on Friday that columns of armed extremists on motorbikes had pinned down the unit, but the army, backed by the air force, killed 57 of them in the tri-border area near Burkina Faso.

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Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger are struggling to contain armed militants linked to al-Qaeda and ISIS that control swathes of territory in the porous border area of the West African Sahel that is larger than the size of Germany.

The attack comes as Mali’s ruling military junta on Friday asked France to withdraw troops from its territory “without delay”, calling into question Paris’ plan for a four- to six-month departure and highlighting the breakdown in relations between Paris and its former colony.

Read more:

US halts nearly $160 mln aid to Burkina Faso after finding military coup occurred

France and EU to withdraw troops from Mali, remain in region

Security council has ‘concern’ over Burkina, won’t say ‘coup’

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