Mali govt urges unity as number of troops killed in extremist attack rises

BAMAKO (AFP) – The death toll in two extremist attacks this week on Malian military camps near the Burkina Faso border has risen to 38 soldiers, the defence minister said on Thursday, calling for unity.

“I am very proud… of these paratroopers, who defended their positions. But unfortunately, today… we buried 38 bodies,” Ibrahima Dahirou Dembele said on national radio.

The minister speaking from the scene of one of the attacks at Boulkessy said 33 missing soldiers had been found alive, eight of whom were receiving treatment. He did not say how many more, if any, were still missing. An earlier death toll following the attacks on Monday and Tuesday put the number of fatalities at 25 troops, with dozens missing.

“In spite of this hard blow, we have to stick together. It’s a tough difficult fight. But in the face of this war, we have to remain united behind our leader (President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita),” the minister added.

The militants aboard heavily-armed vehicles raided two military camps at Boulkessy and Mondoro.

Fifteen extremists were killed in the raids, according to government figures, which began early Monday and were quelled more than a day later.