A rebel attack on an army base in central Mali on Friday has killed at least 27 soldiers and wounded 33 more, the government said, adding that at least seven soldiers are still missing following the complex attack in the rural commune of Mondoro, which involved car bombs.
Seventy “terrorists” were killed in the military’s response, the statement said on Friday, without specifying which armed group was responsible.
Affiliates of both al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) are active in central Mali.
The Mondoro base is near Mali’s border with Burkina Faso and has previously been targeted by rebels fighting the Malian state and foreign forces.
About 50 soldiers died after an attack on Mondoro and the nearby Boulkessi camp in September 2019.
Mali has been facing an armed rebellion since al-Qaeda-linked fighters seized its desert north in 2012, forcing former colonial power France to intervene to drive them back the following year.
The rebel fighters have since regrouped and seized vast swaths of the Malian countryside, while also expanding into Niger, Burkina Faso and other neighbouring countries.
Thousands of people have been killed and more than two million people displaced in the violence. Last year alone, armed groups carried out more than 800 deadly attacks.
France has maintained thousands of troops across the region since 2013, but announced last month that it would withdraw its forces from Mali after ties soured following Paris’s criticism of a military coup and Bamako’s refusal to restore civilian rule.
Paris has also protested against the use of Russian instructors, which the West says are Wagner mercenaries, in the country.
Diplomatic relations between Bamako and Paris further deteriorated in recent months as West Africa’s regional bloc imposed harsh sanctions on the Malian government for delaying the transition plan.