Reuters International

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Five Malian soldiers have been found drowned in central Mali, army officials said on Wednesday, days after five soldiers went missing during clashes with militants.

Four of the soldiers were found near Tenenkou on Tuesday evening and a fifth near the town of Mopti, about 75 km (47 miles) away on Wednesday morning, army spokesman Souleymane Maiga told Reuters.

A group of soldiers was reported missing after an attack claimed by Islamist group Ansar Dine near the village of Tenenkou on Sunday.

Officials did not confirm whether the drowned soldiers were the same soldiers who went missing over the weekend. It was not immediately clear how the soldiers drowned.

Sunday's attack was the latest in a string of assaults claimed by Ansar Dine. The group said in a statement that it had ambushed the army, killing and wounding soldiers, according to SITE Intelligence Group. Fighting continued into Monday.

Islamist militant groups took advantage of an ethnic Tuareg uprising in 2012 to seize northern Mali before a French-led intervention drove them back a year later. They have since reorganised and launch frequent attacks across the region.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Edward McAllister and Gareth Jones)

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