Africa

Mali soldiers killed by rebels amid heightened political crisis

Five soldiers killed and five others wounded in twin attacks on military convoy and on a camp.

Twin attacks have left at least five soldiers dead in Mali, a Sahel country mired in a political crisis that has sparked international concern.

Five soldiers were killed and five others wounded in an ambush on a military convoy and an artillery attack on a camp on Sunday, both attacks blamed on rebel fighters in central Mali, army and local sources said.

The bloodshed came some six weeks after rebel fighters ambushed a military convoy, also in central Mali, killing 24 soldiers.

Fighters unleashed a revolt in northern Mali in 2012 that has since spread to the centre of the poor country and to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger despite the presence of thousands of French and UN troops.

The latest attacks came as President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita faces insistent calls to resign from an opposition angry over the brutal conflict as well as dire economic conditions and perceived corruption.

Much of the current tension was sparked in April when the Constitutional Court tossed out 31 results from long-delayed parliamentary elections – a move that benefitted Keita’s party.

The so-called June 5 Movement (M5-RFP) has continued to insist on Keita’s departure, despite two mediation missions by the regional bloc ECOWAS that has suggested a new unity government and a resolution to the election quarrel.

M5-RFP has said it would resume acts of “civil disobedience” on Monday after observing a truce for the Eid al-Adha festival, a key Muslim holiday that began on Friday.

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