Islamic State (IS) on Saturday claimed responsibility for an attack that left at least 50 soldiers dead in Mali, even as the IS affiliate in Egypt pledged allegiance to the group’s new leader.
IS, which resorted to guerrilla attacks since losing its last significant piece of territory in Syria in March, has posted dozens of claims of responsibility for attacks in several countries since U.S. special forces killed its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last weekend.
Baghdadi was on Thursday replaced by Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, and the group vowed to avenge the death of its leader.
Mali’s deadly attack
Mali’s government said at least 53 soldiers and one civilian have been killed in an attack on an army post in the northern part of the country, making it one of the deadliest strikes against the West African country’s military in recent memory.
IS claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq news agency on Saturday, without providing evidence.
The attack follows jihadist raids in late September that underscored the increasing reach and sophistication of armed groups operating in the region.
From their stronghold in Mali, groups with al Qaeda and Islamic State links have been able to fan out across the Sahel, destabilising parts of Niger and Burkina Faso.
Egypt’s Sinai Province
Egypt’s Islamic State affiliate, Sinai Province, has sworn allegiance to the new leader named by the group Baghdadi’s death, the affiliate said on Telegram on Saturday.
Sinai Province, which has waged an insurgency against the Egyptian state, posted pictures of around two dozen fighters standing among trees, with a caption saying they were pledging allegiance to Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi.
Conflict in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula escalated after President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood was toppled by the military in 2013.
Egyptian ground and air forces launched a major offensive focused on North Sinai early last year. Military operations and militant attacks continue in the area.