Twenty-four Malian soldiers were killed and 29 wounded in an attack on an army patrol in northern Mali which also saw 17 militants killed, a spokesman for the army said.
The West African country is reeling from an attack on an army post that killed 54 in earlier this month – one of the deadliest strikes in recent memory, which underscored the increasing reach and sophistication of armed jihadist groups active in the region.
The Malian patrol attacked on Monday was in Tabankort, Gao region, on a joint operation with Niger against militants operating near the border.
“During the attack, Malian forces suffered 24 deaths, 29 wounded as well as equipment damage. On the enemy’s side 17 were killed and a number captured,” army spokesman Diarran Kone said.
The authorities did not name the assailants or identify which group they belonged to. From strongholds in Mali, groups with al Qaeda and Islamic State links have fanned out across the Sahel, destabilising parts of Niger and Burkina Faso.
Violence surged this autumn with heavy military and civilian losses in Mali and Burkina Faso.
In addition to November’s bloodshed in Mali, 38 Malian soldiers died on September 30 in co-ordinated attacks on two army bases in the centre of the country.
Thirty-nine people were killed in Burkina Faso on November 6 when militants attacked a convoy carrying workers of Canadian gold mining company Semafo.