Mali's military junta pulls out of regional G5 Sahel force

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Colonel Assimi Goita, leader of Malian military junta, attends an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) consultative meeting in Accra, Ghana September 15, 2020. REUTERS/ Francis Kokoroko//File Photo

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BAMAKO, May 15 (Reuters) - Mali is pulling out of a multi-national military force in West Africa's Sahel region combatting an Islamist insurgency, the country's military junta said in a statement on Sunday.

The G5 Sahel force, which includes troops from Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, was set up in 2017 to counter jihadists who have swept across the region in recent years, killing thousands of people and forcing millions to flee their homes.

But the force has been hobbled by a lack of funding and has struggled to reduce the violence.

The statement by Mali's junta, which ousted former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and took power in a 2020 coup, blamed a lack of progress in the fight against the Islamists and the failure to hold recent meetings in Mali.

The move further isolates Mali, which has also be slapped with sanctions from West Africa's regional political bloc, hitting jobs and industry in the impoverished country.

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Reporting by Fadimata Kontao; writing by Edward McAllister; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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