Reports from security official confirm the killing of four civilians and a police officer by suspected terrorists in southern Mali on Sunday, a region that has previously been mostly spared from the country’s extremist unrest.
According to reports from the officials, the unknown men attacked a checkpoint near the town of Bougouni, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Mali’s borders with Ivory Coast and Guinea between 3:30 am (0330 GMT) and 4:00 am
A local lawmaker also confirmed the attack, saying it targeted an outpost used by both the police and forest rangers.
The checkpoint sits on a key route between Mali and Ivory Coast.
The attack came as West African leaders from the ECOWAS regional bloc prepared to meet in Ghana on Sunday to discuss a response to the political turmoil in Mali, which this week witnessed its second military coup in nine months.
President Colonel Assimi Goita, who led the coup last August and was installed after transitional president Bah Ndaw and prime minister Moctar Ouane were stripped of the powers last week, attended the ECOWAS talks in Accra.
The terrorist conflict first emerged in northern Mali in 2012 and has since spread to Burkina Faso and Niger, leaving swathes of the vast nation of 19 million people outside government control.