0603 GMT November 19, 2019
The authorities first reported the attack in the Indelimane, Menaka region, on Friday, but gave a lower provisional death toll, according to Reuters.
“Heavily armed unidentified men attacked around noon. The attack started with shellfire. Then they retreated toward Niger,” government spokesman Yaya Sangare told Reuters on Saturday.
He added that the death toll remained provisional as corpses were undergoing identification, and that the army was undertaking a combing operation on the ground with support from international forces, including French troops from the Barkhane operation and UN peacekeepers.
“The dispatched reinforcements found 54 bodies including one civilian, 10 survivors, and found considerable material damage,” Sangare said on Twitter earlier on Saturday.
The deadly incident came a month after a couple of militant strikes claimed the lives of 40 soldiers near the border with Burkina Faso; one of the deadliest attacks against Mali’s military in recent Takfiri terrorist violence.
Since 2012, Mali has been in a persisting conflict after Takfiri terrorists hijacked an uprising by Tuareg people, a large Berber ethnic confederation living across the Sahara Desert, in the north. During the past seven years, the violence has moved to central Mali, from where Takfiri terrorists launch attacks across the Sahel region.
Outfits affiliated with Al-Qaeda and Daesh Takfiri terrorist groups have used central and northern Mali as a launch pad for growing numbers of attacks across the Sahel region, especially on neighbors Niger and Burkina Faso, despite the presence of 4,500 French troops, who help the Malian army push back the terrorists.
Malians have become increasingly frustrated with the failure of the authorities to end the frequent attacks by terrorist groups, as well as increasing tit-for-tat ethnic killings between farmers and herders, which have also surged this year.