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07:17 AM, September 5, 2016
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Mali Defense Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly was fired after militants took control of Boni for a brief period

The Mali government has revoked the post of defense minister after militants took control of a town in the country’s center.

Defense Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly was fired on Saturday after militants stepped up their attack on the government and took over Boni.

A senior official in the Malian defence ministry told AFP it came following "the latest waves of insecurity in central Mali," referring to jihadists' seizure of the town of Boni on Friday and an attack on a central Mali military base in Nampala that killed several soldiers in July.

The Malian army on Saturday regained control of Boni, which is home to several thousand people, from the jihadists who had escaped with a local official as a hostage.

"The jihadists left Boni in the night and today around 8am (0800 GMT) the Malian army came back to take control of the town," a Malian security source told AFP.

A source close to the UN mission in the country, which is known by the acronym MINUSMA, said two helicopters were providing cover over the town, "to support the Malian army, who are now in control."

However, an administrative source in the town said the jihadists "kidnapped a Boni community official" whom they accused of giving information to the security forces.

Abdoulaye Idrissa Maiga, formerly land minister, was named to replace Coulibaly, according to the government statement.

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