By James Tasamba
BAMAKO, Mali (AA) - At least 25 Malian soldiers were killed and 60 others have been missing after a suspected al-Qaeda-linked attack targeted two army camps in central Mali on Monday, the government said.
“Among the ranks of the FAMA (Malian armed forces) the provisional death toll is 25, with four wounded -- around 60 missing and heavy equipment losses,” the government said in a statement on Tuesday.
Local media said military posts at Boulkessi and Mondoro were targeted in the latest attacks this year orchestrated by militant groups with links to al-Qaeda.
The statement said the army launched a joint operation with forces from neighboring Burkina Faso, which was backed up by French troops stationed in the region.
Tensions erupted in Mali in 2012 following a failed coup and a Tuareg rebellion that ultimately allowed al-Qaeda-linked militant groups to take over the northern half of the country.
In 2015, a peace deal was signed between the government and some insurgent groups.
Political and community disputes continue to fuel tensions in northern Mali, thus undermining the implementation of the peace agreement.
Since 2015, these attacks have spread to central and southern Mali and to neighboring West African countries, particularly Burkina Faso and Niger.