Authorities say dozens of Islamic militants on motorcycles have attacked a town in southern Mali near the border with Ivory Coast.

A security official in the Sikasso region told The Associated Press that the Malian army had come under attack early Wednesday.

The gunmen killed two people during the assault just after 1 a.m., said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

The official said the militants planted a black jihadi flag in the town of Misseni before leaving.

The attack raises new fears about the attacks on southern Mali since militants violence had been largely confined to the far north.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility though suspicion immediately fell on a central Malian extremist group.