Mali says foiled New Year's Eve terror attacks

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A four-man "terrorist cell" suspected of planning New Year's Eve attacks in Mali, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso has been dismantled by Malian intelligence services, a statement said on Wednesday.

The suspects, two from Burkina, one from Mali and one from Ivory Coast, who were arrested last week, earlier "took part in the double attack on March 2 in Ouagadougou" as well as the abduction of a Colombian nun in February 2017 in southern Mali, it said.

They were "apprehended as they were preparing to carry out attacks" on the Malian capital Bamako, the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou and the Ivory Coast capital Abidjan "during New Year's Eve celebrations", the statement said.

Eight soldiers were killed and scores injured in the twin attacks on Ouagadougou on March 2.

France helped Malian forces stave off a jihadist insurgency that took control of large parts of northern Mali in 2012, but swathes of the country remain out of the government's control.

The former colonial ruler has deployed the 4 500-member Barkhane force in the region to repel attacks and stem insurgency.

In Burkina Faso, bordering Mali and Niger, authorities have been battling jihadist attacks over the last three years.

Attacks initially began in the north of the country but have since spread to the east, near the border with Togo and Benin.

According to a report in late September, jihadist attacks have claimed 229 lives in the country since 2015.

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