BAMAKO, Mali — The French military is denying claims by al-Qaida-linked militants in northern Mali that 11 kidnapped Malian soldiers died during a French raid earlier this week.

The militants released a statement Friday alleging that the soldiers died during a French military operation in Tin-bidene. The French armed forces’ press office told The Associated Press that the report is false, labelling it “propaganda coming from an armed terrorist group.”

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the militants’ claim, and there was no comment from Mali’s government.

The jihadists had released a video of the soldiers in which they pleaded with Mali’s government to secure their release.

Jihadist groups remain in northern Mali despite being pushed from their strongholds by French-backed forces in 2013.