At least 14 Malian soldiers were killed and 11 injured on Tuesday in clashes with jihadists in the centre of the country, according to an army report on Thursday, an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda with different figures.
The previous report communicated by officers of the army and the gendarmerie on condition of anonymity reported the day before at least 12 Malian soldiers were killed during these fights which took place between Mopti and Ségou after several attacks carried out against the army with homemade bombs.
"Enemy side", the Malian army claims to have neutralized "31 terrorists", in a statement sent to AFP.
The jihadists of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM, JNIM in Arabic), affiliated with Al-Qaeda, for their part claimed responsibility for a " double ambush having targeted Malian soldiers and mercenaries from the Wagner group in the region of Mopti", in a press release authenticated by the American NGO SITE, specialized in the follow-up of radical groups, consulted Thursday by AFP.
The first attack was carried out "with a mine" on the road between Tenenkou and Macina during which "an unknown number of Malian soldiers and Wagner mercenaries were killed and wounded".
It was followed by a second assault "with three explosive devices" between Koumara and Macina in which "five Wagner mercenaries and seven Malian soldiers were killed" and dozens of others injured", according to the JNIM organization which " recognizes the death of five martyrs".
Some countries accuse the junta in power in Mali of having recourse to the private paramilitary company Wagner, reputed to be close to the Kremlin, which Bamako denies.
Mali has suffered since 2012 from the spread of the jihadist movement and a deep multidimensional, political, economic and humanitarian crisis. The centre of the country is one of the hotbeds of the violence which has spread to neighbouring countries, Burkina Faso and Niger and is spreading towards the south.
The colonels who came to power through a putsch in 2020 and reinforced by a second coup in 2021 turned away from the former French ally and its partners and turned militarily and politically towards the Russians.
The junta launched an operation focused on central Mali at the end of 2021. She claims to have cornered the jihadists on the run and on the defensive across the country.
But in a report by its secretary general presented to the Security Council on Tuesday, the UN writes on the contrary that the security conditions continued to deteriorate between June and December 2022 in the centre of the Sahel, "in particular in Burkina Faso and in Mali".
"In Mali, after the departure of international forces, armed groups advanced in the east of the country, taking control of large border areas with Niger", underlines the report.