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File photo shows militants in the Malian city of Gao. (Photo by AFP)
Four Malians, including two civilians, have been killed during an attack by militants in the African country’s restive northern region.
"We have unfortunately lost two men. Two civilians were also killed. Two army vehicles were taken," a Malian security source said from the city of Ansongo on Monday, adding that militants had carried out the attack in the village of Fafa, which lies near the border with Niger.
The source said Malian soldiers had been deployed in the village to protect stallholders.
Mali’s Defense Ministry confirmed that two soldiers had been killed in the attack, saying it had dispatched reinforcements to the area. The ministry said the incident also left two soldiers injured.
Mali’s restive north has seen a surge in attacks by an array of militant groups over the past few years. The area was overran by Tuareg-led rebels and groups linked to al-Qaeda in 2012, which prompted France to intervene militarily.
In 2013, the UN set up a mission in Mali in a bid to stabilize the country.
Mali remains beset by unrest and militant attacks despite the presence of UN and French troops in the country.
In 2015, Mali reached a shaky agreement with militants, but some groups refused to sign a final peace deal and bloodshed has continued since then. 

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