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Eight Malian Soldiers Killed, 14 Wounded in Clash With Militants

FILE - Malian soldiers are seen during a patrol in Dansongo Circle, Mali, Aug. 23, 2021.

The Malian defense ministry said late Friday in a statement that eight soldiers have been killed, 14 wounded, and five are missing, following clashes with militants Friday afternoon in northern Mali.

The statement also says that during the clash, in which ground troops were supported by the air force, 57 terrorists were killed, and materials destroyed.

The clash occurred near Tessit, Mali, in the northeastern part of the country.

Since 2012, violence and instability have increased in northern and central Mali, and both Malian and French military members have been frequently targeted by militants.

France announced Thursday that it would withdraw troops from Mali after a nine-year presence, following months of deteriorating relations between Mali and France. French troops first arrived as part of Operation Serval in 2013, which was aimed at taking back northern Mali from Islamist militants. Operation Serval was replaced by anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane.

The Malian government asked on Friday for French troops to leave Mali “without delay”, after French President Emmanuel Macron had said the withdrawal would take between four and six months.