Security forces in Mali have attacked a  group of suspected al-Qaida militants at their base near the country's northern border with Algeria.

Malian army Colonel Modibo Ndiaye told VOA French to Africa service that at least 17 suspects were killed during Tuesday's raid.

The operation took place near the town of Timetrine, located about 400 kilometers north of Timbuktu. It followed the killing of a senior intelligence officer investigating the group al-Qaida of the Islamic Maghreb.

The group said it killed a British hostage, Edwin Dyer, on May 31.