A Mali defense ministry official says armed men have attacked an army checkpoint outside the town of Menaka near the border with Niger, and a local official says two soldiers have been killed.

Col. Diarran Kone, a spokesman with Mali's Defense Ministry, confirmed Friday's attack.

A local official said one person was wounded and two others went missing in the attack. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear for his own security, said a car was also stolen.

No group has claimed responsibility, but al-Qaida-linked extremists have been launching attacks against the military for years. Extremists most recently targeted Mali's military Feb. 12 in Timbuktu, killing three soldiers.

A French-led operation pushed Islamic militants from strongholds in northern Mali in 2013, but insecurity remains.