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BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — A series of attacks targeted three military bases in Mali on Sunday, killing at least six soldiers and injuring nearly a dozen more, the West African nation’s army said.

In a tweet, the Malian army said simultaneous attacks were underway in Sevare, Niono and Bapho, three central towns in the sprawling desert nation.

While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State has ravaged the nation for eight years. The military junta that seized power in 2020 has been struggling to stem the violence.

Mali’s army has been attacked a number of times this year but this is the first time they are being hit in three different cities.

A military official not authorized to speak to the media said the attacks involved car bombs and that the camp in Bapho was particularly hard hit, with shrapnel from an explosion damaging a helicopter.

The violence occurred in the center of the country where the Malian military together with the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary force, has been very active and where the junta has been claiming to have been making significant progress, said Michael Shurkin, a former political analyst at the CIA who works with the Dakar-based 14 North Strategies.

“The attacks appear to belie the government’s claims. The attacks appear well-coordinated. This is not the work of an adversary whose back is up against a wall,” he said.