At least 33 Malian soldiers died and 14 others were wounded in an attack on a military post in the country’s violence-hit northeastern region of Gao, according to the army.
Some 100 assailants on pick-up trucks and motorbikes launched the attack in the town of Tessit, located 60km southeast of Ansongo, near Mali’s border with Burkina Faso and Niger.
The army said in a statement on Wednesday that 20 attackers were killed. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
While offering its condolences to the soldiers’ families, the army underlined “the necessity of strengthening the fight against terrorism”.
Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger are plagued a brutal separatist armed movement where groups control vast swathes of land. Groups linked to ISIS and al-Qaeda exploit the poverty of marginalised communities and inflame tensions between ethnic communities.
The “tri-border” region has seen the most intense fighting in a worsening conflict that has sparked a major humanitarian crisis.
Attacks grew fivefold between 2016 and 2020, with 4,000 people killed in the three countries last year, up from about 770 in 2016, according to the United Nations.