Suspected Islamist militants killed 11 soldiers in an attack on a Malian army base near the desert city of Timbuktu on Monday, the government said.
Residents said Islamist fighters carried out the pre-dawn attack on Gourma Rharous base, which followed an ambush on Saturday on an army convoy further south that killed two soldiers.
The government statement said 11 soldiers were killed and one wounded but it did not identify the attackers.
A military source, who asked not to be named, said they withdrew from the base carrying stolen military equipment.
Tuareg rebels seeking a northern state they call Azawad briefly allied with Islamist groups in 2012 to overthrow the state in Mali’s northern cities. However, they were easily scattered by a French military intervention a year later.
The Malian government signed a peace accord with northern armed groups in June but Islamist fighters were not signatories and continue to mount attacks on Malian and Western targets.