Gunmen attacked a checkpoint southwest of the Malian town of Timbuktu on Tuesday night killing three soldiers and wounded two others.
A soldier in the town said on condition of anonymity on Wednesday that the attack took place at Lere, a town near the border with Mauritania.
A Defence Ministry spokesman confirmed the toll but gave no further details about where or how the attack occurred.
Mali is facing a growing threat from militant groups including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb that have staged a series of high profile raids in recent months with numerous attacks on army and UN Nations personnel.
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