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Death toll in Mali terrorist attacks rises to at least 38 soldiers

Death toll in Mali terrorist attacks rises to at least 38 soldiers

 Affected Countries: mali;

The death toll in two militant attacks this week on Malian military camps near the Burkina Faso border has risen to 38 soldiers, the defence minister said on Thursday, with more still missing after militants on heavily armed vehicles raided two military camps near the Burkina Faso border.

“Unfortunately, today… we buried 38 bodies,” Ibrahima Dahirou Dembele said on national radio.

A previous toll put the number of dead at 25 troops.

The militants made off with a large quantity of arms, ammunition and equipment before Malian special forces, with support from French warplanes and helicopters, fought back.

In response, the army launched a joint operation with forces from neighbouring Burkina Faso backed up by French troops stationed in the region, it said.

Last Saturday three attacks were carried out on villages and an army unit in northern Burkina Faso, killing seventeen people including a soldier.

The Burkinabe army, which itself has suffered heavy losses, has been unable to stop the attacks that have prompted some 300,000 people to f lee for the south.

France has begun asking its European partners to send special forces to Mali and other Sahel nations in Africa, to shore up local forces who are being increasingly targeted by deadly militant attacks across the vast desert expanse.

The idea is to improve on the basic training for forces which are often outgunned and inexperienced, and free up France’s 4,500-strong Barkhane operation to focus on pursuing insurgents and preventing attacks.

So far, only Estonia has stepped up, pledging in late September to send 50 soldiers to participate alongside the troops France has stationed in the region since 2013.

“Talks are underway with several countries,” a French government source told AFP, asking for anonymity to discuss the potential deployments.

For France, building up the armies of Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad and Niger is the essential first step before any drawdown of its troops.

So far these countries’ armies are far from ready to stand on their own.

The stakes are high as Paris seeks to prevent insurgents affiliated with a Daesh group, Al-Qaeda and others from taking root in the sparsely populated areas.

“Europe will have two swords of Damocles over its head: terrorism and kidnappings, but also illegal migrants, since many are travelling through these areas,” Defence Minister Florence Parly warned in June.

Source: TRT World