10 'terrorists neutralised' in central Mali: army

Photo_Web_Somali_Forces_090618

File: More than 500 American forces are partnering with African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali national security forces in counterterrorism operations.

File: More than 500 American forces are partnering with African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali national security forces in counterterrorism operations.

Photo_Web_Somali_Forces_090618

File: More than 500 American forces are partnering with African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali national security forces in counterterrorism operations.

File: More than 500 American forces are partnering with African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali national security forces in counterterrorism operations.

BAMAKO - Ten suspected jihadists were "neutralised" in troubled central Mali on Tuesday after clashes with the military, Defence Minister Tiena Coulibaly said in a statement.

The Malian military "neutralised 10 terrorists, recovered weapons, explosive devices and other war materials," after fighting in Karakinde in the Mopti region, Coulibaly said.

He asked locals "to continue backing defence and security forces in the fight against terrorism in all its forms".

The Malian army has recently regularly spoken about the "neutralisation of terrorists" in the region but rights groups have raised the alarm saying they were extra-judicial killings.

On May 19, the army said three Malian soldiers and 12 "terrorists" were killed in fighting at an army camp near the border with Burkina Faso. But locals alleged the dead were all civilians and the army later put out a new statement that spoke of 12 "people" killed.  

Tensions and violence have intensified in the troubled area over the past three years with clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers from the Bambara and Dogon ethnic groups who accuse the pastoralists of colluding with jihadists.

Islamic extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the desert north of Mali in early 2012, but were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.