Mali has received a rare delivery of military materiel from China, “exclusively acquired on the military budget,” Defense Minister Sadio Camara said on Thursday.
The Sahel state has been battling a security crisis since jihadist and separatist insurgencies broke out in the north in 2012.
It has since August 2020 been ruled by a military junta, which broke a long-standing alliance with France and other Western partners in the fight against jihadism and turned to Russia for assistance.
Mali received shipments of Russian military supplies in March and August 2022, and again in January 2023.
Last month, the Malian army received several aircraft from Russia and drones from Turkey.
Arms deliveries from China are rarer.
“Please convey to the highest authorities of your country the sincere thanks of the Malian people,” Camara told the Chinese charge d’affaires during a ceremony attended by junta leader Assimi Goita.
Camara said the quality of equipment and instructors China provided would “accelerate” the “empowerment” of Mali’s armed forces.
Thursday’s delivery included armoured and tactical vehicles, logistical vehicles, medical ambulances, individual and collective weapons, and individual combatant equipment, the minister said.
In claims disputed by experts, the junta says it has routed jihadists over the past year. But recently it has suffered a series of bloody attacks.