Dozens of Malian soldiers killed in suspected jihadist attack

Suspected Islamist activists killed 29 Malian soldiers in an attack on a base in the northeast of the country on Thursday, the military said.

Suspected Islamist activists killed 29 Malian soldiers in an attack on a base in the northeast of the country on Thursday, the military said.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack in the town of Tarkint, which is approximately 125 km (78 miles) north of the town of Gao. The Mali military has repeatedly suffered heavy losses of jihadist fighters active in the region in connection with al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The military said earlier today that only two soldiers had died but later tweeted that the death toll had “changed dramatically”, leaving 29 dead and five injured.

Large areas of central and northern Mali are effectively lawless, used by jihadists as base of attacks in Maliand in neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso, where security has deteriorated significantly over the past year.

The former colonial power, France, had thousands of soldiers across the semi-arid strip beneath the Sahara Desert known as the Sahel, but French officials admit that they have failed to slow the violence.

The head of the French army, François Lecointre, told senators last month that the Malian, Nigerien and Burkinabé armies were losing the equivalent of one battalion per year when attacked by militants.

(REUTERS)