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Over a Dozen Malians Murdered

FILE: Map of Mali showing the Gao area. Uploaded Jan. 18, 2017.

DAKAR — At least 13 civilians have been killed by suspected jihadists in chronically unstable northern Mali, elected officials who requested anonymity said on Wednesday.

"The provisional toll is now 13 dead, a dozen wounded and hundreds of people fleeing several villages in the Gabero area" in the Gao region, said a local official, who added that the Malian army was not present.

"They killed a lot of people, more than 17 people," another local official said.

The attack comes as a vote by the Security Council to end a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, at Mali's own request, was postponed to later this week due to ongoing talks, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

Due to continuing discussions between members of the Council, the U.N. and Mali, a vote scheduled for Thursday was postponed to Friday, the last day of the current mandate of MINUSMA, according to one of the diplomatic sources.

The Mali military regime has enlisted the assistance of the Russian mercenary Wagner Group to bolster its firepower, drawing criticism from many nations.

However, Moscow has made it clear that Mali and other African nations are free, on their own, to enlist Wagner and other "assistance" as desired.