Malian Government Says 54 Dead in Jihadist Attack on Army

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Malian soldiers are seen on their way to Markala, Mali, some 240 kms (150 miles) north of Bamako, Friday, Jan. 18, 2012. French troops encircled a key Malian town on Friday to stop radical Islamists from striking closer to the capital, a French official said. The move to surround Diabaly came as French and Malian authorities said they had retaken Konna, the central city whose capture prompted the French military intervention last week. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
FILE -- In this file photo, Malian soldiers are seen on their way to Markala, Mali, some 150 miles north of Bamako, Friday, Jan. 18, 2012. French troops encircled a key Malian town on Friday to stop radical Islamists from striking closer to the capital, a French official said. The move to surround Diabaly came as French and Malian authorities said they had retaken Konna, the central city whose capture prompted the French military intervention last week. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

BAMAKO, Mali — Jihadists attacked the Malian military near the border with Niger, leaving at least 53 soldiers and one civilian dead, in the second major assault against the country's armed forces in a month, the government said Saturday.

The latest violence to target Mali's armed forces took place Friday in Indelimane, located in Mali's volatile Menaka region.

"Reinforcements have been sent to the scene and the situation is under control with the support of the French military, which is helping to evacuate the wounded," government spokesman Yaya Sangare told The Associated Press.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though jihadists with links to the Islamic State group are active in the area. The assailants were believed to have fled toward the border with Niger, Sangare said.

The new violence is likely to further raise tensions in the capital, Bamako, where military families have already protested in the streets. They say that soldiers are not being given the resources on the ground that they need to confront an array of jihadist groups.

Friday's violence occurred a month after 41 soldiers were killed and 20 others went missing during two attacks on Malian soldiers taking part in a regional counterterrorism force.

The two latest attacks are among the most deadly against the Malian army since a 2013 French-led military intervention to oust the jihadists from power in the major towns of northern Mali.

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