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Civilians killed in Mali suicide attack on French-Malian military patrol

media A French soldier with Operation Barkhane in Inaloglog, Mali, in 2017 REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French military convoy has been attacked in Mali with conflicting reports as to the casualties. According to the latest statement from the Malian defence ministry, with a number of French soldiers injured. Hospital sources told RFI that 23 civilians have been wounded but had no figures for military casualties.

"French soldiers of the Barkhane military operation were ambushed by terrorists" near the town of Bourem, a Western military source told the AFP news agency.

Earlier the ministry said the dead were French soldiers but it later changed its story.

It told news agencies that four to eight French soldiers were injured.

Eyewitnesses say that the soldiers' armoured car was blocked by a vehicle driven by a suicide bomber who blew it up.

The Malian defence ministry confirmed the incident, which came two days after a deadly attack on the headquarters of the five-nation G5 Sahel African force, in the country.

An African Union summit opened in Mauritania's capital, Nouakchott, on Sunday.

French President Emmanuel Macron is to meet leaders of the countries participating in the G5 force - Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad - during the summit.

France, which intervened in Mali in January 2013 after the north fell to Islamists and Tuareg separatists, hopes that the G5 will take over the battle against armed jihadists and smugglers in the desert region.

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