Military outpost attack caused huge loss to Malian Armed Forces as at least 53 soldiers and a civilian have been killed in northeast Mali.
The attack, one of the deadliest against Malian forces, took place in Indelimane, in the Menaka region close to the border with Niger according to country’s communication minister.
He said the situation had been brought “under control”, adding: “A search and the process of identifying the bodies is continuing.”
Ten survivors were found at the outpost, which suffered “significant” damage, according to Sangare, who did not give further details.
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The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group claimed responsibility for the attack via its media arm Amaq, without citing evidence.
“Soldiers of the caliphate attacked a military base where elements of the apostate Malian army were stationed in the village of Indelimane,” the group said.
The attack involved at least three suicide bombers who detonated explosives inside the military camp, according to security sources.
The Malian government earlier condemned the “terrorist attack“, saying it had left numerous dead or wounded but without giving a precise toll.
“Reinforcements have been dispatched to secure the area and hunt down the attackers,” it said in a statement.
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The attack comes a month after two attacks killed 40 soldiers near the border with Burkina Faso, but several sources claims the death toll had been downplayed.
Mali’s army has been struggling in the face of regular flare-ups of violence that have spread from the arid north to its centre, an ethnically mixed and volatile region.
The recent attacks are also a major blow for the so-called G5 Sahel force a much-trumpeted initiative under which five countries created a joint 5,000-man anti-terror force and for France, which is committed to shoring up the fragile region.
Northern Mali came under the control of al-Qaeda-linked fighters after Mali’s army failed to quash a rebellion there in 2012.
A French-led military campaign was launched against the fighters, pushing them back a year later.
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But the armed groups have regrouped and widened their hit-and-run raids.
The violence has also spilt over into Burkina Faso and Niger where fighters have exploited existing inter-communal strife, leaving hundreds dead.
Paul Melly, a consulting fellow at Chatham House’s Africa Programme, described the groups operating in the region as “highly mobile” and said countering their threat was a “huge challenge” for security forces.
Military outpost attack caused huge loss to Malian Armed Forces.