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Mali: Gunmen attack village near Ivory Coast border

world Updated: Jun 29, 2015 07:03 IST
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Gunmen identifying as Islamic extremists attacked and briefly occupied a village in southern Mali near Ivory Coast on Sunday before security forces drove them out, officials said.

The attack was the second to be perpetrated in Mali's southern half over the weekend by suspected Islamic extremists, and President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita convened a meeting of defense officials in the capital, Bamako, on Sunday to discuss the security situation.

Sunday's attack targeted the village of Fakola, 15 kilometers (9 miles) north of the Ivory Coast border. "Armed individuals identifying as jihadists today attacked the village of Fakola. They came on motorcycles," said Mamadou Tangara, mayor of the regional capital Sikasso.

The attackers carried "a black flag of jihadists" and shouted "Allahu Akbar," or "God is great" in Arabic, said a military police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

They burned administrative buildings as well as a building that was being used as a local base for military police, though the military police sustained no casualties because they had left the village before the attack began, the official said.

The official said he spoke to residents before the assailants cut the phone network.

Casualty information and details on the identity of the attackers were not immediately available Sunday.

Security forces stationed nearby were dispatched to drive the attackers out, and by late afternoon they had retaken control of Fakola, the official said.

Islamic extremists took control of northern Mali in 2012 following a military coup. A French-led military intervention in 2013 scattered them from the north's cities and towns, though the north remains insecure and in recent months violence has extended further south.

In March a masked gunman opened fire in a restaurant popular with foreigners in Bamako, killing five people.

Three soldiers were killed Saturday when suspected extremists attacked the village of Nara about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of the border with Mauritania.