Al-Qaida-linked extremists are claiming responsibility for a deadly attack on the convoy of a high-ranking judicial official in central Mali.

Tuesday's attack targeted the president of Mali's High Court, who was not harmed. But the Malian army says his driver and five other soldiers who responded to the attack were killed.

The statement by the Malian affiliate of al-Qaida released Wednesday says the extremists fired on the convoy and then targeted the soldiers with an explosive device.

Al-Qaida-linked fighters have carried out a series of dramatic attacks including in the capital. About two years ago they killed 20 people in a siege of the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako.