Tuareg fighters in Mali’s desert north and from Niger blamed for recent attacks.
The attack followed a joint exercise involving US troops and the armies of several Sahel states, the vast region bordering the Sahara desert, aimed at countering the threat of terrorism in the region, officials, who asked not to be named, told the Reuters news agency.
Attacks and ambushes
Mali’s armed forces have been searching for Tuareg rebels in the desolate northern mountain region of Tinzaouatene on the borders with Algeria and Niger after several attacks and ambushes in recent weeks.
Earlier this month Mali appealed for international help to counter raids by the Tuaregs, who they also accuse of trafficking drugs and weapons.
Washington has been helping the hunt for armed fighters in the region and expanded a series of programmes for training African militaries.
Nomadic Tuaregs in northern Niger and Mali staged an uprising in the former French colonies in the 1990s.