A suspected jihadist attack at a market in Mali has left two customs officers dead, security sources told AFP on Wednesday.
“Two customs officers were killed, a terrorist too,” according to one source.
According to another source, the attackers arrived in the small village of Toubakoro, some 200km north of the capital Bamako. That source says the attackers were on motorcycles and were armed.
“There was a great panic in the village,” the source added.
“The jihadists were well informed about the comings and goings of the security forces,” said an elected representative who was near the market at the time.
“The jihadists fired at a customs vehicle,” he added.
Islamic extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the desert north of Mali in early 2012, but were largely driven out by a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.
Large tracts of the West African country have however remained lawless and jihadists have continued to carry out attacks against civilians and security forces.
Newly-appointed Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga said earlier this month that “urgent measures” were required to address Al-Qaeda-linked groups.
Defence sources have told AFP that the military aims to deploy some 1 000 soldiers to take back control of the country’s restive centre.
French forces are still operating in Mali as part of Operation Barkhane, an offensive deployed in five countries – Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso.
These countries form the so-called G5 Sahel force, a French-supported group that aims to combat jihadists in the region.