Death toll of Mali soldiers killed in attack reaches 42
Revising an earlier figure of 21 dead, the toll of 42 is said to be one of the bloodiest in Mali's decade-long insurgency.
An attack carried out by suspected terrorists on Sunday near the town of Tessit caused the deaths of 42 Malian soldiers, Mali’s army has said.
The document issued by the army was revising an earlier figure of 21 as the names of the fatalities were counted to 42.
The toll is said to be one of the bloodiest in Mali's decade-long insurgency. The attacks have spread to the center and south of Mali and into Niger and Burkina Faso. Across the region, thousands of people have died and more than two million have fled their homes.
On Monday, the army said 17 soldiers and four civilians were killed. Among the victims had been elected officials, according to relatives of the victims who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Monday's statement also mentioned that seven attackers had died, "probably members of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and benefiting from drone and artillery support and using explosives and an explosives-laden vehicle."
Tessit and its nearby military base have been repeatedly attacked.
In March 2021, 33 soldiers were killed in an ISGS ambush as units were being rotated.
The insurgency that has swept the three Sahel countries has claimed thousands of lives and forced more than two million to flee their homes.
Sporadic cross-border attacks have also occurred in Ivory Coast, Togo, and Benin to the south, amplifying fears of a jihadist push toward the Gulf of Guinea.
Mali has been under threat from terrorists since 2012 and has witnessed two military coups since 2020.
Colonels angry at the government's handling of the long-running insurgency seized power in August 2020, then carried out another coup in May the following year.
The junta that came to power in August 2020 has had sharp tensions with France, which had sent troops to its former colony in what many saw as a bid to still have a foothold in the country.
The Malian people have a profound sentiment of resentment toward France that, during about 10 years of its military presence in Mali, failed to achieve any tangible achievements in terms of the country's security, political instability, and economic issues.
Russia, on the other hand, has recently sent military instructors to help the crisis-stricken country get back on its feet. It has also provided the Malian army with military weapons and aircraft to assist it with counter-terrorism efforts.