At least 12 army soldiers were killed in militant attacks in Mali’s central region of Mopti, the Malian Armed Forces command (FAM) confirmed on Tuesday, reported Anadolu Agency. The unidentified militants attacked a FAM checkpoint in Mopti, leaving nine soldiers killed.
The army said urgent measures were taken in the area, near the town of Bankass, with troops on alert amid an ongoing operation to track the attackers. Unfortunately, a military unit sent to reinforce operation in the area had fallen into an ambush nearby in the town of Paroukou.
The army said an airstrike had been launched that killed 13 terrorists and destroyed two vehicles.
“Deeply saddened by these two attacks, the Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs wishes divine mercy to those who lost their lives, a speedy recovery to the injured and sends his condolences to the bereaved families,” said the statement.
No group has yet claimed responsibility of the attack so far, but similar attacks are usually claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Notably, armed groups are still very active in Mali despite the presence of French and UN peacekeeping forces in the West African country.
Since 2012, militants have killed thousands of soldiers and civilians in violent attacks carried out in the northern and central parts of Mali. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 456 civilians were killed and hundreds more wounded in central Mali last year alone.
Meanwhile, a military junta had ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August following mass protests and promised to win the war against terrorism in Mali.
The military junta has already endorsed a charter to restore civilian rule in the country within the next 18 months and appointed a committee that appointed 70-year-old retired colonel Bah Ndaw as interim president and Colonel Assimi Goita as the vice president.