Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for an attack in central Mali.

Monday's attack was the closest the militants have struck to the capital, Bamako, since a French-led war forced them from cities across the north nearly two years ago.

Mauritanian news agency Al-Akhbar quoted AQIM members as saying that they occupied Nampala without great fight, and that they are holding captured soldiers.

Defense Ministry adviser Lt. Col. Diarran Kone said Mali's forces were back in control by Monday night.

A military official says six soldiers died, and several were injured, according to a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists. A resident said the damage from the attack was big and he counted about 10 bodies.