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Al-Qaida Affiliate Claims Responsibility for Mali Attack

Soldiers and a self-tanker were deployed after a suicide attack in the Gao region, north-central Mali, July 1, 2018. (Sidi Elhabib Maiga/VOA)

Terrorist group al-Qaida's affiliate in Mali claimed responsibility Monday for an attack that left four civilians dead a day earlier, according to U.S.-based intelligence group SITE.

Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, known by the acronym JNIM, said it carried out the attack Sunday in Gao, declaring it a message to French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the African Union summit in Mauritania.

Sunday's attack targeted a French and Malian patrol in Gao, leaving four civilians dead and over a dozen others, including four French soldiers, wounded.

A spokesman for the French military said there were no deaths among French troops when a car bomb was detonated in the northern city of Gao.

"I confirm that it was a car bomb that drove into a joint Barkhane/Malian army patrol," Mali Defense Ministry spokesman Boubacar Diallo said, referring to Operation Barkhane, the nearly 4,000 French troops stationed in its former colonies in the Sahel region.

JNIM has claimed responsibility for three other attacks in Mali since Friday, ahead of national elections scheduled for July 29.