Al-Qaeda’s North African branch claims to have killed 28 Malian soldiers in northern Mali, according to a US group that monitors militant Web sites.
Washington-based SITE Intelligence Group said Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb released a message on Tuesday night claiming responsibility for a July 4 attack in northern Mali. The group also claimed to have captured three soldiers and to have lost one fighter.
A spokesman for Mali’s Defense Ministry said soldiers were caught up in clashes with fighters from Al-Qaeda’s North African branch on Friday and Saturday. Both sides recorded losses, the statement said, but precise figures were not given.
Al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa, known by the French language acronym AQMI, is an Algeria-based group that joined Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network in 2006 and conducts dozens of bombings or ambushes each month.
It operates mainly in Algeria but is suspected of crossing the country’s porous desert borders to spread violence in the rest of northwestern Africa.
The militant group said that its fighters had launched a preemptive strike on a Malian military convoy in al-Wasra, northern Mali, SITE Intelligence Group said.
“This blessed invasion comes in the context of the war waged by the Malian army on the behalf of the Crusaders against al-Qaida Organisation, especially after the British infidel was killed,” the statement said.