Six Malian soldiers have been killed and nine wounded after a rare attack in the country’s west, police and local sources told AFP on Wednesday.
The troops died on Monday near the town of Kita, 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the capital Bamako, a police source said, without specifying the nature of the ambush or the perpetrators.
A local official confirmed the toll and blamed “terrorists,” a term often used in Mali to refer to jihadists.
Rebels affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have waged a bloody insurgency against the state for more than a decade, but no one had claimed responsibility for the attack by Wednesday evening.
The police source said the army response led to “several deaths” among the attackers.
Mali has been grappling with a security crisis since 2012, when separatist and jihadist insurgencies broke out in the north.
Anger at the government’s failure to stem the violence helped spark two coups in 2020 and 2021, with the West African country’s military junta breaking with traditional ally France and turning towards Russia.
Mali has since hired what it calls Russian military instructors to aid its fight against the rebels, but Western countries say they are mercenaries from the Wagner group, accused of abuses in multiple conflict zones.
On Tuesday, two Russian servicemen and a civilian died when a grenade accidentally exploded in a bar in the central town of Segou, local sources said.