About 10 Malian soldiers have been reported missing following an ambush by suspected Islamist militants in the West African nation’s desert north, the army said on Monday.
Army spokesman, Diarran Kone, said a convoy of soldiers was attacked on the road between the towns of Gao and Menako on Sunday.
“This is a region increasingly under threat from resurgence of militant groups, some with links to al Qaeda.
“We were ambushed, we have about 10 missing soldiers and we lost four vehicles. We are taking stock of the situation,” Mr. Kone said.
Militant groups took control of Mali’s north in 2012 though French-led forces pushed them back a year later.
Maintaining peace in the remote desert region had proved difficult and jihadists continue to launch attacks on Malian soldiers and UN peacekeepers.
African countries launched a multi-national military force to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region on June 2, as violence spread beyond north Mali to neighbouring states.
On June 19, militant groups linked to al Qaeda killed at least five people at a luxury resort popular with Westerners just outside the capital Bamako, in the southern part of the country generally considered more secure.
Meanwhile, fighting flared up on July 7 between rival Tuareg clans, unsettling the Kidal region in the far north.
On Friday, clashes pitting the pro-government platform coalition, led by the GATIA militia, and the separatist Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) led to casualties, although the government was unable to specify how many.
On July 1, French President Emmanuel Macron attended a security summit in Mali to boost support for the creation of a regional counter-terror force.