New jihadist alliance claims border attack in Mali

Malian soldiers patrol the northern city of Gao in February 2017

A new jihadist alliance claimed responsibility Saturday for an attack that killed three members of Mali's security forces on March 29, according to a statement released by jihadist monitoring group SITE.

Three Malian jihadist groups with previous Al-Qaeda links recently joined forces to create the "Group to Support Islam and Muslims" (GSIM), led by Iyad Ag Ghaly of Islamist organisation Ansar Dine.

The group, also known as Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimeen in Arabic, mounted an attack that killed three gendarmes, they said, though Malian security sources told AFP the day of the attack that it was two soldiers and a civilian who were killed.

"This past Wednesday, a brigade of mujahideen was able to attack a Malian gendarmerie post in Boulikessi, which is part of the Douentza area, near the Burkinabe border," the statement released by SITE said.

"The attack resulted in killing three gendarmes and seizing some weapons and ammunition as spoils," it added.

It is believed to be the jihadist alliance's second operation after their merger, following the killing of 11 soldiers in the same area on March 5.

Ansar Dine was involved in an onslaught that saw northern Mali fall out of government control for nearly a year from spring 2012.

The extremists were later expelled from the region by a French-led international military intervention.

Nonetheless large swathes of northern Mali continue to come under attack from jihadist groups.

The area is also seen by governments battling the jihadist threat as a launchpad for attacks against other countries in the region.

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