A Mali-based coalition of al-Qaida-aligned militants has claimed responsibility for an attack in Togo last month, the SITE Intelligence monitoring group said Friday. 

The Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) has been expanding geographically, threatening northern parts of coastal Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo. 

Togo’s government had confirmed a “terrorist attack” on May 11 in the northern town of Kpekankandi, near the border with Burkina Faso, where the insurgents are also present.

Officials had said that eight Togolese soldiers were killed and 13 others were wounded.

JNIM, according to SITE Intelligence, which monitors jihadist activities worldwide, said it had killed eight soldiers, stolen some weapons and damaged two cars.

A senior security source in Togo told AFP that the soldiers were attacked by a group of 60 gunmen who arrived on motorbikes.  

“They exchanged fire for more than two hours … and then a reinforcement unit was hit by an improvised explosive device,” he added.  

Togolese soldiers foiled an attack last November in the northern village of Sanloaga, making the May attack the first to cause casualties. 

The statement from JNIM also claimed attacks in Mali and in Burkina Faso. 

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