Malian army reports 27 soldiers dead in attack on camp

BAMAKO, Mali — Islamic extremists attacked a military camp in central Mali on Friday, killing at least 27 soldiers and seriously wounding nearly two dozen others in the deadliest attack this year, the state broadcaster said.

ORTM said that the attack took place near Mondoro in central Mali, close to Mali’s border with Burkina Faso.

Friday’s attack comes amid growing fears that Islamic extremists could regain territory as French troops are leaving in the months to come. The French military intervened in 2013, leading a military operation to dislodge extremists from control in the major towns of northern Mali.

In the years that followed, however, these militants have regrouped, extending their reach in central Mali, and continue to attack Malian soldiers as well as U.N. peacekeepers trying to stabilize the country.

The country also went through two coups in the span of 18 months, instability that preceded the French drawdown. Col. AssimiGoita, who had promised to hold another presidential election in October last year has stopped promising and postponed it until 2026.. This was the instability that preceded the French drawdown. Goita’s actions have been widely condemned, leading to tension with France and other international partners.

French President Emmanuel Macron said last month that the troop withdrawal will take place over a six-month period, though Malian authorities soon countered that they should do so “without delay.”

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Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

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