The Malian army killed about 50 militants during an operation and rescued some soldiers captured during attacks last month on two bases in the centre of the country.
Unidentified assailants killed 38 soldiers during the September 30 attacks, among the heaviest losses for Mali’s army this year as it struggles to repel increasingly brazen raids by militant groups, some with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State.
“Around 50 enemy neutralised, around 30 wounded and equipment destroyed,” the army said in statement detailing its counter-operation.
The army freed 36 of 60 soldiers missing following the September raids. Their relatives protested over the high death toll and a lack of information on casualties and those missing.
The West African country has been in conflict since 2012 when Islamists hijacked an ethnic uprising by Tuaregs. The violence moved to central Mali, where jihadist fighters launch attacks across the Sahel.
In another example of spiralling insecurity, pro-government Tuareg militia GATIA said six fighters were killed in an overnight raid on a GATIA outpost by unidentified assailants in Mali’s Kidal region.
The situation raises concerns the under-funded regional G5 force, comprising troops from Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, and Burkina Faso, is unable to stop unrest spreading from West Africa’s hinterland to coastal countries including Ivory Coast and Ghana.