At least 25 Malian soldiers have been killed and about 60 have gone missing in militant attacks on two army bases in central Mali.
The attacks took place at military posts in Boulkessi and Mondoro, the government said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Among the ranks of the FAMA (Malian armed forces), the provisional toll is 25 killed, four wounded… around 60 missing and heavy equipment losses,” the statement said.
Fifteen militants were also killed in the assaults.
The toll is among the highest suffered by Malian forces this year as they struggle to contain an ongoing militant campaign in the central region of the country.
The government said the army had launched a joint operation with forces from neighboring Burkina Faso, backed up by French troops stationed in the region, in response to the attacks.
Violence by militant groups has worsened almost every year since it first exploded in Mali in 2012, when militants and allied Tuareg rebels took over the north and advanced toward the capital, Bamako, until a French-led intervention pushed them back the following year.
Groups linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh have used central and northern Mali as a launch pad for growing numbers of attacks across the Sahel region, especially on neighbors Niger and Burkina Faso, despite the presence of 4,500 French troops.
Malians have become increasingly frustrated with the failure of the authorities to end the frequent attacks by militant groups, as well as increasing tit-for-tat ethnic killings between farmers and herders, which have also surged this year.