Aug 11, 2022 17:48 UTC
  •  42 Mali soldiers killed in suspected terrorist attacks

Forty-two Malian soldiers have died in a sophisticated weekend attack by suspected terrorists using drones artillery, authorities said Wednesday, the latest violent incident to rock the troubled Sahel country.

The toll is one of the bloodiest in Mali's decade-long insurgency, which has spread from the north of the country to the centre and south and into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

A document naming the dead was authenticated to AFP by several senior military officials, while the government later confirmed the toll in a statement that said 22 soldiers were injured and 37 "terrorists" were neutralised.

The attack occurred on Sunday in the town of Tessit, in the troubled "three-border" region where the frontiers of the three nations converge.

On Monday, the army had said 17 soldiers and four civilians had died. Relatives of the victims, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that some of the civilians had been elected officials.

Monday's statement pointed the finger of blame at the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the Greater Sahara, saying its members had deployed "drone and artillery support and (used) explosives and an explosives-laden vehicle".

The last time Mali's armed forces sustained such losses was in a string of attacks in the same region in late 2019 and early 2020.

Hundreds of soldiers were killed in assaults on nearly a dozen bases, typically carried out by highly mobile fighters on motorbikes.

The raids prompted the Malian, Nigerien and Burkinabe forces to fall back from forward bases and hunker down in better-defended locations.

In January 2020, France and its Sahel allies agreed on a push against the Daesh at a summit in Pau, southwestern France.

Several of its leaders were targeted and killed, including its founder, Abu Walid Al-Sahraoui, but local people say the group has continued to recruit and carry out its operations.

Tessit is one of the hotspots in the three-border area.

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