BAMAKO: At least 10 soldiers were killed in Mali today in an attack on an army base near Boulikessi, on the border with Burkina Faso, army sources said. No group has claimed responsibility for the assault, an army officer said in Bamako, though attacks by jihadist groups have increased in Mali's central regions, having previously been confined to the restive north.
"We have lost at least 10 men. One of our positions was attacked early Sunday morning by terrorists, on the border with Burkina Faso," a highly-placed Malian military source told AFP on condition of anonymity. "We have several men who are probably still alive but have sought shelter in Burkinabe territory," the source added. A resident of Douentza, the county seat near the base, said the assailants had looted or torched large amounts of military hardware.
The Malian army told AFP that a team had been dispatched to assess the damage and provide reinforcements. Mali's north fell under the control of Tuareg-led rebels and jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012, who were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013.
But the implementation of a peace accord struck in 2015 has been piecemeal, and insurgents who refused to sign the deal are still active across large parts of the country, increasingly in its central belt. Meanwhile, three jihadist groups active in the Sahel region announced Thursday that they would merge to form a single organisation, raising fears of more attacks and better coordination by insurgents operating in Mali.