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BAMAKO: Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists in Mali claimed responsibility on Thursday for a suicide raid on French forces in the north of the Sahel state this month, which left one soldier dead.

In a statement verified by the jihadist-surveillance group SITE Intelligence, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) said that it attacked a French military camp near the town Gossi in northern Mali on July 23.

Islamist fighters sent two vehicles packed with explosives against the camp gates, to clear the way for another, which detonated after entering the base, the statement added.

"The raid coincided with a mortar shelling, enabling commandos to storm the base, and clash with the Crusader soldiers that remained," GSIM said, referring to French troops.

One French soldier died in the attack, according to France's presidency.

GSIM -- which is active in several Sahel states -- said on Thursday that two of its fighters died in the raid.

Mali has been struggling to contain a jihadist revolt that first broke out in the north in 2012, despite the presence of French and UN troops in the country.

The conflict has since spread to the centre of the impoverished nation of some 20 million people, and to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have died in the Sahel-wide conflict to date, and hundreds of thousands have had to flee their homes.

France has some 5,100 soldiers deployed across the Sahel. The UN mission in Mali, called MINUSMA, has around 13,000 members.