Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) and French soldiers of the “Belleface” Desert Tactical Group (GTD) conduct an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
BAMAKO (Reuters) – At least 53 soldiers and one civilian were killed in a militant attack on a military post in northern Mali on Friday, the government said.
The attack is one of the deadliest strikes against the West African country’s military in recent memory. It is still reeling from jihadist raids in late September that underscored the increasing reach and sophistication of armed groups operating in the region.
“The dispatched reinforcements found 54 bodies including one civilian, 10 survivors, and found considerable material damage. The situation is under control,” government spokesman Yaya Sangare said on Twitter in the early hours of Saturday.
The authorities first reported the attack by armed men on the army post in Indelimane, Menaka region, on Friday, but gave a lower provisional death toll.
From their stronghold in Mali, groups with al Qaeda and Islamic State links have been able to fan out across the Sahel, destabilising parts of Niger and Burkina Faso.
Thirty-eight Malian soldiers were killed on Sept. 30 in coordinated attacks on two army bases in central Mali, which has slipped from government control despite the presence of the French army and other international forces.
Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo, Paul Lorgerie, Souleymane Ag Anara; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Dan Grebler, Sonya Hepinstall and Alexandra Hudson