Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Mali said on Monday it killed four mercenaries from the Russian private military company, the Wagner Group, in an ambush around Bandiagara in central Mali.
The press unit of the Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), said in a statement that its fighters clashed with mercenaries on Saturday in the Mopti region, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist statements.
Wagner has no public representation and could not be reached for comment.
Mali is struggling to stem an Islamist insurgency that took root after a 2012 uprising and has since spread to neighboring countries, killing thousands and displacing millions in West Africa’s Sahel region.
Wagner began supplying hundreds of fighters last year to support the Malian army and has since been accused by human rights groups and local residents of participating in massacres of civilians – accusations to which he did not answer.
The Russian government has acknowledged that Wagner’s personnel are in Mali, but the Malian government has described them as Russian military instructors rather than private security personnel.
In July, the JNIM claimed responsibility for an attack on Mali’s main military base, which it said was a response to the government’s collaboration with Wagner.