The Malian army says four soldiers and two civilians have been killed in a militant attack in Mali’s northern Gao region where French Barkhane forces are winding up operations.
Five militants were also killed as Malian army repelled the “complex and coordinated attack” on Tessit town on Sunday.
The raid took place as Barkhane troops prepared to close their last helicopter hanger in Gao ahead of a final withdrawal from the Sahel nation at the end of August.
Mali has severed defence co-operation with key regional and international stakeholders, and is involved in a standoff with UN peacekeepers, foreshadowing further deterioration in regional security.
This has been worsened by the deployment of Russia’s Wagner mercenaries in the Sahel nation.
Their presence has triggered threats from al-Qaeda’s Sahel branch to blockade the Malian capital Bamako and escalate attacks on the country’s military rulers.