BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Al-Qaida-linked groups attacked two army bases in central Mali, killing at least 16 people including two civilians, while nearly 19,000 people have fled attacks in neighboring Burkina Faso, officials said Tuesday.
Assailants rode into the community of Boulikessi with heavy weaponry overnight Sunday to Monday to attack a Malian battalion of the regional G5 Sahel Force, said a force commander, Niger Gen. Oumarou Namatou Gazama. He blamed "the terrorist group" Ansarul Islam.
One resident said he saw at least 12 dead soldiers. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of his safety.
The attack on the camp caused "heavy equipment losses and major damage," Malian government spokesman Yaya Sangaré said in a statement that did not give a casualty toll.
Around the same time early Monday, armed men attacked another army camp in Mondoro and killed four people including two civilians, a resident said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears for his safety.
Meanwhile nearly 30 people have been killed in Burkina Faso's Bam province the past two weeks, including 17 over the weekend, according to the provincial high commissioner, Ambrose Ouedraogo.
The violence in the municipalities of Zimtenga and Bourzanga has displaced nearly 19,000 people in the past three days, he said.
Extremists have gained a larger foothold in Burkina Faso's north in the past few years, staging more attacks near its borders with Mali and Niger. Hundreds have been killed.
Kabore reported from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
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