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Report: Mauritanian soldiers clash with suspected militants

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 6 soldiers, 12 suspected militants were killed in the attack, Mauritania's state news agency says
  • The clash took place in northern Mali, AMI reports
  • Al Qaeda's North African wing is active in the area

(CNN) -- Six Mauritanian soldiers and a dozen militants were killed during clashes in northern Mali between members of the Mauritanian army and a suspected terrorist group, Mauritania's state news agency, AMI, reported Saturday.

Mauritanian fighter jets took part in the operation as fighting stretched into a second day, said AMI, which cited an unnamed military source and a statement from the Department of Defense. Nine Mauritanian soldiers were wounded in the attack, according to AMI.

Al Qaeda's North African wing, known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, is active in the area.

"In recent days, our armed forces spotted a group of terrorists on board a column of armored vehicles that were moving towards our border with the sister Republic of Mali, in the obvious goal to attack one of our positions," the news agency reported defense officials said in a statement.

The Mauritanian army intercepted the column, AMI said, resulting in a violent clash that lasted between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Twelve suspected militants died and an unknown number were wounded, AMI reported, adding that two Mauritanian soldiers died during the clash while four others were wounded and died later from their injuries.

AMI said Mauritanian officials had informed their counterparts in Mali of the attack.

CNN's Pierre Meilhan contributed to this report.