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Mali Counts More Dead

FILE - In this file photo taken on Saturday, March 7, 2015, armed forces provide security for the nightclub, seen rear, that was attacked by gunmen in Bamako, Mali. Mali Violence

At least 132 civilians have been killed over the past three days in neighboring towns in central Mali in attacks blamed on jihadists, local officials and a senior government official said Monday.

The Mali government of Mali said 132 persons had been "coldly killed by fighters of the Macina Katiba of Amadou Kouffa", an organization affiliated to Al-Qaeda, during attacks Saturday night in Diallassagou and two other localities in the area.

An elected official speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons told AFP that the violence was continuing Monday.

However, Nouhoum Togo, another official, said that the army had reached the scene of the attack and was able to count the dead.

Mali and the central Sahel have for months faced a string of civilian massacres blamed on jihadists.

The country has since 2012 been rocked by an insurgency by groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State group, plunging the country into crisis.

Violence that began in the north has since spread to the center and to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Inter-communal and criminal violence is also common.