BAMAKO, Mali — A Tuareg leader says suspected jihadists on motorcycles have killed at least 42 people in Mali's eastern Menaka region during a series of attacks on their nomadic camps.

Moussa Ag Acharatoumane of the Tuareg self-defense group said Thursday that children as young as eight were among the victims of the attacks Tuesday and Wednesday. The region in the sprawling West African nation is home to a number of extremist groups, including those with links to Islamic State militants.

Meanwhile, authorities say at least four suspected jihadists were arrested last week by Malian special forces. They say the men were preparing to carry out attacks in the cities of Abidjan in Ivory Coast, Bamako in Mali and Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso at the end of the year.