2 killed in attack on West African counterterror force's HQ

2018-06-29 20:29
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A car packed with explosives detonated at the headquarters of a new, five-nation West African counterterror force in Mali, setting off a gun battle that killed at least two soldiers and two attackers and wounded several soldiers, officials told The Associated Press on Friday.

"The attack is underway as I speak with you," General Didier Dacko said by phone from neighbouring Niger.

Residents said the blast shook the community of Sevare, near the central city of Mopti.

G5 Sahel spokesperson Abdoul Salam Diagana told the AP two soldiers were dead and several wounded, adding that the toll "will evolve."

Two attackers also were killed, with two others captured, Diagana said.

This is the first time the G5 Sahel headquarters has been targeted. The assault comes shortly before French President Emmanuel Macron and African leaders meet at an African Union summit starting on Sunday in Mauritania, with the regional extremist threat on the agenda.

There was no immediate information on the identity of the attackers. A number of extremist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group are active in Mali, often attacking local security forces and a UN peacekeeping mission.

The 5 000-strong G5 Sahel force launched last year and includes Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Mauritania. It has received millions of dollars in backing from the United States, European Union, Saudi Arabia and others.

The new force joins multiple counterterror efforts in the region including France's largest overseas military operation, Barkhane.

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Read more on:    mali  |  west africa
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