Sophisticated weekend attack involving drones, explosives, car bombs and artillery leaves 42 soldiers dead and 22 others wounded, say officials of the troubled African country.

Heavy fighting took place in the troubled
Heavy fighting took place in the troubled "three-border" region where the frontiers of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso converge. (Reuters)

Forty-two Malian soldiers have been killed and 22 others wounded in an attack near the town of Tessit, a sophisticated attack blamed on Daesh affiliate in the landlocked West African country.  

"The Malian army units of Tessit... reacted vigorously to a complex and coordinated attack by armed terrorist groups, presumably from Islamic State [Daesh] in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), characterised by the use of drones, explosives, car bombs, and artillery," the government said in a statement on Wednesday.

 The attack took place on Sunday and was one of the deadliest attacks in recent years for the Malian army which has been battling a decade-long insurgency across the Sahel region.

 Soldiers killed 37 militants during several hours of heavy fighting in the troubled "three-border" region where the borders of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso converge.

 The army had previously said that 17 soldiers had been killed in the attack and that nine had gone missing.

READ MORE: Attack kills several Mali police

 Deadly tri-junction 

Thousands have fled Tessit to the nearest large town of Gao, which is located some 150 kilometres to the north.

 The last time Mali's armed forces sustained heavy losses was in a string of attacks in the same region between late 2019 and early 2020.

During those attacks, hundreds of soldiers were killed in assaults on nearly a dozen bases. These attacks are typically carried out by militants on motorbikes.

The attacks also prompted the Malian, Nigerien and Burkinabe forces to fall back from forward bases and hunker down in better-defended locations.

Mobile phone connections to the area have been frequently cut over the last few years and access to the area is difficult during the mid-year rainy season.

 Mali is ruled by a military junta that overthrew the democratic government in 2020, in part over frustration at its failure to rein in the violence, but attacks have remained common.

READ MORE: Attacks in central Mali kill civilians, soldiers

Source: AFP