At least 53 troopers and a civilian have been killed in an assault on a army submit in northeast Mali, in keeping with the nation’s communication minister.
The assault, one of many deadliest towards Malian forces, passed off in Indelimane, within the Menaka area near the border with Niger, Yaya Sangare wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
He mentioned the scenario had been introduced “under control”, including: “A search and the process of identifying the bodies is continuing.”
Ten survivors had been discovered on the outpost, which suffered “significant” harm, in keeping with Sangare, who didn’t give additional particulars.
There was no fast declare of duty.
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Vall, who has reported extensively from Mali, mentioned the assault concerned a minimum of three suicide bombers who detonated explosives contained in the army camp, in keeping with safety sources.
He added the dying toll may rise.
The Malian authorities earlier condemned the “terrorist attack”, saying it had left quite a few lifeless or wounded however with out giving a exact toll.
“Reinforcements have been dispatched to secure the area and hunt down the attackers,” it mentioned in an announcement.
The assault comes a month after two assaults killed 40 troopers close to the border with Burkina Faso, however a number of sources informed AFP information company the dying toll had been downplayed.
Mali’s military has been struggling within the face of normal flare-ups of violence which have unfold from the arid north to its centre, an ethnically blended and risky area.
The current assaults are additionally a significant blow for the so-called G5 Sahel power – a much-trumpeted initiative beneath which 5 international locations created a joint 5,000-man anti-terror power – and for France, which is dedicated to shoring up the delicate area.
Northern Mali got here beneath the management of al-Qaeda-linked fighters after Mali’s military did not quash a insurrection there in 2012.
A French-led army marketing campaign was launched towards the fighters, pushing them again a 12 months later.
But the armed teams have regrouped and widened their hit-and-run raids.
“Those groups are gaining more momentum, organising themselves better and making it more difficult for the peacekeepers and other soldiers – particularly the Malian army – to control that region,” Al Jazeera’s Vall mentioned.
The violence has additionally spilt over into Burkina Faso and Niger the place fighters have exploited present inter-communal strife, leaving a whole bunch lifeless.
Paul Melly, a consulting fellow at Chatham House’s Africa Programme, described the teams working within the area as “highly mobile” and mentioned countering their risk was a “huge challenge” for safety forces.
“Yesterday’s attack is only the latest in a series of brutal attacks that have often culminated in the massacre of any defeated garrison, attacks clearly aimed at destroying the morale of national armies in the Sahel,” Melly informed Al Jazeera.
“The answer cannot be security alone. Development and better public administration are key – but of course that is hard to provide when government personnel are at risk of targeted killing and it is not safe for development agencies to operate,” he added.
Al Jazeera’s Vall, in the meantime, mentioned the “unique” geography of the area was additionally including to safety forces’ struggles to comprise the armed teams.
“It’s a desert and there are no real borders between the countries of the Sahel, so it is difficult to control thousands and thousands of kilometres of desert,” Vall mentioned.
“There are no fences, no outposts for the armed forces, most of them are encamped inside the cities in northern Mali … primarily concerned with the safety of the personnel and not with fighting in the desert against those groups,” he added.
“So there is an asymmetry in that war between groups that can launch hit-and-run attacks and then hide … and between the regular armed forces who use conventional means.”