Suspected jihadists mounted an ambush Thursday on an army convoy in central Mali that left 15 soldiers dead and 34 wounded, 10 of them seriously, the army said.
“A bomb-laden vehicle exploded, followed by intense gunfire” in the late-morning attack, the army said in a statement, calling the casualty toll “provisional.”
A military official blamed the carnage on “terrorists” — the usual term for jihadists.
The ambush occurred near Douentza in the jihadist-infested Mopti region, 600 kilometers (370 miles) from the capital Bamako.
The region is the epicentre of a deadly Islamist offensive that began in northern Mali in 2012 and then advanced into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, inflaming ethnic tensions along the way.
Thousands of soldiers and civilians have died in the conflict to date and hundreds of thousands of people have had to flee their homes.
Extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of Mali’s vast desert north in early 2012, before being largely driven out in a French-led military operation that began in January 2013.
But huge areas are still in the grip of lawlessness, despite a 2015 peace agreement with some armed groups that sought to definitively stamp out the jihadist threat.