Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita declared three days of national mourning last week following deadly attacks on two army camps.
Authorities suspect jihadists carried out the simultaneous raids on troops in central Mali. They killed at least 38 soldiers, and 33 others remain missing. Gen. Dahirou Dembele told reporters it was the greatest loss since Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger established cooperative security operations in 2017. Hundreds of people, including relatives of soldiers, protested Wednesday, claiming the government undercounted casualties.
Although no group claimed responsibility for the attacks, Dembele said he suspected the jihadists belonged to the al-Qaeda–linked Ansarul Islam. One of several armed jihad groups vying for control in the region, Ansarul Islam began as a local insurgency in northern Burkina Faso, according to the European Council on Foreign Relations.
Mali has struggled to squelch the activities of jihadists linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State since 2012. Islamist groups have also inflamed tensions in Mali, provoking sectarian violence. —Julia A. Seymour