Wives and children of Malian soldiers demonstrated in the capital Bamako, demanding information from government after 25 soldiers were killed and 60 went missing in attacks by suspected jihadists.
The raids on Monday on two army camps in central Mali were among the deadliest this year against soldiers struggling to repel increasingly brazen attacks by militant groups, some with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State.
The roughly 300 protesters in front of a military base accused army chiefs of withholding resources from soldiers in the field. Some burned tyres and one wore a t-shirt reading: “No to thieving generals.”
“We have no news about our husbands,” said one woman, who declined to be identified. “We learned some are dead and others are missing, but we have received no clear information.”
An army spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
“We demand our soldiers be equipped in accordance with the mission assigned to them,” said Amadou Dembele, the son of a soldier in Boulkessi, where one of Monday’s attacks took place. “Otherwise we will resist deployment of reinforcements.”
Protests over military losses have destabilised Mali before. Renegade soldiers seized power in 2012 following protests over government handling of a Tuareg-led rebellion.
The resulting political chaos helped precipitate the fall of northern Mali to rebels and allied Islamist militants.
France intervened in early 2013 to drive them back, but jihadist fighters since regrouped and now use Mali to launch attacks across West Africa’s Sahel region.